Post‐Industrial Pressures on the Mature Welfare States

Paul Pierson

in The New Politics of the Welfare State

Published in print April 2001 | ISBN: 9780198297567
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600104 | DOI:
Post‐Industrial Pressures on the Mature Welfare States

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This is the third of three chapters on the sources of pressure on contemporary national welfare states, all of which seek to show how examining the sources of strain carries implications for identifying who is likely to fight with whom over what; the authors of the three chapters are not of one mind on this issue. Here, Pierson focuses on trends within affluent democracies that constitute potential sources of the strains usually attributed to globalization. Like Iversen in the previous chapter, he highlights the role of the shift from manufacturing to services, but rather than focusing on the disruption of employment, his concern is the shift in the workforce to activities where productivity improvements are more limited; the result has been slower economic growth, which generates fiscal strain for mature welfare states. This, for Pierson, is one of a series of ‘post‐industrial shifts’ that produce severe pressures on the welfare state — others include the maturation of governmental commitments, the transformation of household structures, and population ageing. All these shifts create intense fiscal problems; in addition, social change in a context where programmes are often slow to adapt generates mismatches between the inherited capacities of welfare states and contemporary demands for social provision.

Keywords: affluent democracies; contemporary welfare state; economic growth; employment; fiscal strain; globalization; household structure; manufacturing sector; maturation of governmental commitments; mature welfare states; population ageing; post‐industrialism; pressures on the welfare state; productivity; services sector; social change; social provision; welfare state

Chapter.  10757 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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