Embedded Preferences and Welfare State Trajectories

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:
Embedded Preferences and Welfare State Trajectories

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The most common reason for anticipating welfare state decline relates to negative pressures exerted by economic globalization. The growing international mobility of capital is thought to weaken unions and left parties, while enhancing the attractiveness of market-oriented policies. Pressures to scale back welfare provisions and social expenditure in such an environment would seem inevitable. While critics have lamented the “race to the bottom” apparently ushered in by economic globalization, proponents welcome the prospect that global pressures may limit the regulatory and redistributive capacities of national governments. What these normative evaluations share, however, is the assumption that recent patterns of globalization contribute to welfare state retrenchment. While the overall shape and size of the welfare state appears least susceptible to full-blown retrenchment pressures, cuts or programmatic change within specific social policy domains have been more common. This chapter uses an approach that couples analysis of trends in overall spending with that of trends in domain-specific programs to fully capture the dynamics of retrenchment, restructuring, and persistence.

Keywords: welfare state; globalization; retrenchment; social expenditure; social policy; spending; restructuring; persistence

Chapter.  5484 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Political Economy

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