Policy Learning in Europe: Social Policy and Labour Market Reforms in 11 Countries
INSPIRES Working Paper
64 Pages Posted: 28 Dec 2015 Last revised: 16 Feb 2016
Date Written: December 22, 2015
This report compares policy learning processes in 11 European countries. Based on the country reports that were produced by the national teams of the INSPIRES project, this paper develops an argument that connects problem pressure and politicization to learning in different labor market innovations. In short, we argue that learning efforts are most likely to impact on policy change if there is a certain problem pressure that clearly necessitates political action. On the other hand, if problem pressure is very low, or so high that governments need to react immediately, chances are low that learning impacts on policy change. The second part of our argument contends that learning impacts on policy change especially if a problem is not very politicized, i.e. there are no main conflicts concerning a reform, because then, solutions are wound up in the search for a compromise. Our results confirm our first hypothesis regarding the connection between problem pressure and policy learning. Governments learn indeed up to a certain degree of problem pressure. However, once political action becomes really urgent, i.e. in anti-crisis policies, there is no time and room for learning. On the other hand, learning occurred independently from the politicization of problem. In fact, in countries that have a consensual political system, learning occurred before the decision on a reform, whereas in majoritarian systems, learning happened after the adoption of a policy during the process of implementation.
Keywords: Policy learning, European political economy, crisis, social policy, labour market policy
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