Chapter

Retrenchment, Restructuring, Persistence

in Why Welfare States Persist

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2007 | ISBN: 9780226075839
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226075952 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226075952.003.0004
Retrenchment, Restructuring, Persistence

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The world's richer democracies all provide such public benefits as pensions and health care, but why are some far more generous than others? And why, in the face of globalization and fiscal pressures, has the welfare state not been replaced by another model? Reconsidering the myriad issues raised by such pressing questions, this book contends that public opinion has been an important, yet neglected, factor in shaping welfare states in recent decades. Analyzing data on sixteen countries, the book finds that the preferences of citizens profoundly influence the welfare policies of their governments and the behavior of politicians in office. Shaped by slow-moving forces such as social institutions and collective memories, these preferences have counteracted global pressures that many commentators assumed would lead to the welfare state's demise. Moreover, the book shows that cross-national differences in popular support help explain why Scandinavia's social democracies offer so much more than liberal democracies such as the United States and the United Kingdom. The study expands our understanding of both public opinion and social policy in the world's most developed countries.

Keywords: public benefits; pensions; health care; globalization; welfare state; public opinion; social institutions; social democracies; Scandinavia; social policy

Chapter.  6555 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Political Economy

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