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Welfare state under pressure — NordForsk
The Interaction of Welfare States and. Politics and Government No.
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B Essex. The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism. Alexander Hicks , Gosta Esping-Andersen. Armonk , B. Related Papers. Compared to white collar employees and workers, they display the highest average incomes. In order to analyze whose preferences the German reform trajectory reflects, I compare the policy preferences of different occupational groups to the major social policy reform decisions taken by the German parliament since the early s.
Welfare state under pressure
Based on the survey data, I compile for each occupational group whether a majority supported or opposed the respective reform. Table 1: Assessment of political responsiveness In order to assess political responsiveness, I categorize each reform according to the scheme displayed in table 1. Conversely, a reform is categorized as responsive toward lower social classes if it was supported by the working class but opposed by the upper occupational groups.
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If all social classes showed majority support for a reform, it was categorized as responsive toward all. Likewise, a reform was classified as nonresponsive if both groups opposed it. Unequal responsiveness and welfare state change in Germany The results are visualized in table 2, showing the number and content of the reforms in each quadrant. Based on this illustration, we can make several important observations.
First, and most importantly, the analysis reveals a clear pattern of unequal responsiveness, with political decisions clearly tilted in favor of the upper classes.
Welfare States Under Pressure: Cash Benefits in European Welfare States Over the Last Ten Years
Whereas the vast majority of reforms found support in the upper occupational groups, only 10 reforms were in line with the preferences of the working class. Taking a look at only those reforms that were contested, the representational bias becomes even more visible: while 13 reform decisions were supported by the upper classes but opposed by the lower ones, no single policy change was exclusively responsive to workers and lower-grade employees.
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Putting it differently: no single proposal endorsed by the less-advantaged groups passed without the support of the better-off. When looking at the contents of the reforms in the different quadrants, a further interesting pattern emerges. Of those reforms solely responsive toward the upper classes, almost all included retrenchment in the field of compensatory social policy. Cutbacks in unemployment insurance or the partial privatization of the pension system all were in line with the preferences of the self-employed and civil servants, but opposed by the workers and lower-grade employees.
Similarly, the reforms fostering activation by sanctions found more support among the upper classes than among workers, even though some of these reforms found majoritarian support in all occupations groups.
Location & Availability for: Welfare states under pressure
Table 2: Unequal responsiveness in welfare state politics in Germany Third, expansionary policies were only adopted if not only the lower classes but also the civil servants and the self-employed endorsed the proposal. This is true for all expansions in social policy programs during the period under study.
The largest genuine expansion of social policy programs has taken place in the field of work-family policies, such as the massive expansion of public childcare places for children younger than three years old, which went into effect in These new measures to support reconciliation of work and family obligations cater to political needs and demands that previous welfare state programs did not address.
They are backed by a rather strong societal consensus, whereas the conflict line between lower and upper classes runs along more traditional programs aimed at income protection. Lower occupational groups, in contrast, only saw their preferences politically enacted when they aligned with those of the upper classes. This constant unequal responsiveness becomes even more troubling when we take into account that different party coalitions were in government during the period under study. The representational deficit of the lower classes was not adequately addressed by any party in government, which points to a systematic problem of political representation.