The article is reporting the results of the first part of an extensive informetric analysis of the Welfare topic, carried out in 1998–1999. The aim was to analyse the structure of the literature of international Welfare research, to provide a detailed picture of its basic theoretical and empirical concepts and the mutual relations existing between these concepts.The approach is novel in that through the application of quantitative (i.e., bibliometric) techniques it tries to reduce subjectivity in domain analysis and in the mapping of the developments and segmentation in special topical areas.The analysis used the technique of co-ordinated online searches in a cluster of international bibliographic databases in DIALOG. The identified 13 sub-topics have been in detail analysed, in three time intervals. By measuring trends and developments in the number of publications, term occurrences, similarity between the subject terms and formation of clusters among the subject segments the analysis provides a comprehensive review of such a complex research field as the Welfare State is. The study, which primary aim is to improve the methodology of quantitative analysis in the so called "soft" sciences, will increase the interest among social scientists, scholars of the humanities and library and information science to use databases as analytical tools and to apply the modern text mining techniques for the extraction of knowledge from bibliographic data.