Comparative Institutional Advantages of Welfare State Regimes and New Coalitions in Welfare State Reforms

Philip Manow

in The New Politics of the Welfare State

Published in print April 2001 | ISBN: 9780198297567
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600104 | DOI:
Comparative Institutional Advantages of Welfare State Regimes and New Coalitions in Welfare State Reforms

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This is the second of three chapters on the role of economic interests, and of systems for representing those interests, in the politics of welfare state reform. They explore the linkages between national welfare states and national economies, and examine the processes through which economic actors press their interests on policy makers. Section 1 of Manow's chapter offers a critical account of contributions that predict the formation of new political coalitions along the cleavage line between those firms and workers that are forced to adjust to international market pressures and those that enjoy domestic shelter from globalized markets; a brief discussion is included of the relative importance of the electorate in current welfare reforms as compared with the role played by organized interests of capital and labour. Section 2 presents a transaction cost argument that seeks to identify one central logic linking production and protection in continental welfare states and coordinated market economies, respectively; the central argument is that generous welfare state programmes may enhance and not diminish international competitiveness and can be part of the comparative institutional advantage of an economy rather than solely contributing to its comparative cost disadvantage. Section 3 concludes by briefly discussing the implications of the argument presented in Sect. 2 for the present debate on the compensatory role of the welfare state in a globalized economy.

Keywords: capital; compensatory role of the welfare state; continental welfare states; coordinated market economies; cost disadvantage; economic interests; electorate; globalization; globalized markets; institutional advantage; international competitiveness; international market pressures; labour; market economies; political coalitions; production; protection; welfare state; welfare state reform

Chapter.  8350 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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