Party Organization, Electoral Competition and Reform of Welfare State Generosity in OECD Countries, 1973-2002

Posted: 13 Aug 2009 Last revised: 21 Aug 2009

See all articles by Gijs Schumacher

Gijs Schumacher

VU University Amsterdam - Faculty of Social Sciences

Barbara Vis

Utrecht University School of Governance

Date Written: 2009

Abstract

How to explain reform of the welfare state across countries and over time? In this paper, we draw on qualitative studies of welfare state reform and on the party behaviour literature to develop a new theoretical model of welfare state reform. Taking the cabinet as our unit of analysis, we hypothesize that strong internal party democracy induces a cabinet to policy-seeking behavior, and strong electoral incentives induce a cabinet to office-seeking behavior. When the first condition is present, a cabinet’s ideological position as presented in the cabinet party’s or parties’ manifesto is the best predictor of welfare state reform; when the second condition is present, the cabinet is more likely to adapt its policies to changing economic and political circumstances. These two conditions make up the cabinet’s political opportunity structure and explain why it decides to reform, or not to reform, the welfare state. We put forward ways to operationalize the variables in this model and illustrate the model’s empirical usefulness by examining the reform activities of seven Dutch cabinets between 1973 and 2002.

Suggested Citation

Schumacher, Gijs and Vis, Barbara, Party Organization, Electoral Competition and Reform of Welfare State Generosity in OECD Countries, 1973-2002 (2009). APSA 2009 Toronto Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1450054

Gijs Schumacher (Contact Author)

VU University Amsterdam - Faculty of Social Sciences ( email )

De Boelelaan 1081
Amsterdam, 1081 HV
Netherlands

Barbara Vis

Utrecht University School of Governance ( email )

Bijlhouwerstraat 6
Utrecht, 3511 ZC
Netherlands

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