University of Twente Student Theses


Party politics, retrenchment and activation : partisan effects of welfare state reforms

Steffens, C. (2013) Party politics, retrenchment and activation : partisan effects of welfare state reforms.

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Abstract:The effect of party politics is debated in the literature on welfare state restructuring – be it for retrenchment or activation. Theoretical expectations and empirical results diverge as to whether partisanship of the government has an effect on the direction of welfare state reforms or not; and, if there is an effect, on the way in which parties matter. Based on this debate, this thesis investigates the following research question: to what extent does political partisanship of the government account for the direction of welfare state reforms in Western European countries between 1989 and 2007? Through regression analysis this study tests the influence of a broad range of variables, partisanship being one of them, on retrenchment and activation. To that aim, welfare state reforms in the field of non-employment benefits are examined for a sample of 14 EU countries in the period from 1989 until 2007. Contrary to prior expectations, there is some evidence that rightist governments are more likely to retrench the welfare state than leftist governments. This relation is, however, not statistically significant. For activation, no partisan effects can be found. The main factors determining the direction of reforms seem to be external to the government. A deteriorating socio-economic situation and the pressures of economic globalization and demographic change trigger retrenchment. In the same vein, globalization contributes to an increase in the number of active labour market policies.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:88 social and public administration
Programme:European Studies BSc (56627)
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