Title

Welfare retrenchment under left and right government leadership : towards a consolidated framework of analysis?

Document Type

Book chapter

Source Publication

Social policy review, 24 : Analysis and debate in social policy, 2012

Publication Date

1-1-2012

First Page

137

Last Page

163

Publisher

Policy Press

Keywords

Welfare retrenchment, Blame avoidance, Prospect theory, Partisan competition, Veto players

Abstract

This chapter aims to add to the literature on welfare retrenchment by consolidating prospect theoretical, party competition and veto player explanations into one framework of analysis. It tests this framework against comparative historical evidence of four Western European democracies, namely Denmark, France, Germany and the Netherlands. It suggests answers to the questions ‘why’, ‘when’ and ‘how’ policymakers engage in welfare retrenchment are indeed best considered jointly: looking at the ‘why’ question through ‘losses domains’ enables us to identify governments that are more likely to engage in “treacherous” welfare retrenchment, but falls short of telling us much about possible stumbling blocks to reform in political systems with multiple constitutional constraints. Considering party competition and particularly the strength of Left parties helps us to understand ‘when’ policymakers are likely to engage in unpopular welfare retrenchment, but fails to illuminate ‘how’ – or the mechanisms through which – welfare retrenchments are achieved, namely consensus seeking.

DOI

10.1332/policypress/9781447304470.003.0008

Publisher Statement

Copyright © The Policy Press/Social Policy Association 2012

Access to external full text or publisher's version may require subscription.

Additional Information

ISBN of the source publication: 9781447304470

Recommended Citation

Kühner, S. (2012). Welfare retrenchment under left and right government leadership: Towards a consolidated framework of analysis? In M. Kilkey, G. Ramia, & K. Farnsworth (Eds.), Social policy review, 24: Analysis and debate in social policy, 2012 (pp. 137-163). Bristol: Policy Press. doi: 10.1332/policypress/9781447304470.003.0008