Manfred G. Schmidt

in The Oxford Handbook of the Welfare State

Published in print July 2010 | ISBN: 9780199579396
Published online September 2010 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Politics & International Relations


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Partisan theory predicts significant covariation between measures of the party composition of governments and indicators of the welfare state. In explaining differences in the welfare state, it relies mainly on nine key propositions concerning linkages between social constituencies, parties, and social policy. Two types of studies have provided particularly valuable testimony in favour of partisan theory: comparisons of the social policy positions held by political parties, and studies of the impact of parties on the welfare state. The hypothesis of partisan influences is an important analytical instrument for a better understanding of the determinants of the welfare state and, compared with many other hypotheses in the literature, is relatively successful in explaining policy outputs and outcomes. However, there are certain caveats. Overall, it is shown that partisan theory remains a valuable tool in the comparative study of the welfare state in economically advanced democratic states.

Keywords: partisan theory; welfare state; social constituencies; political parties; social policy

Article.  5711 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; Comparative Politics ; Political Behaviour

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