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How governments strategically time welfare state reform legislation: empirical evidence from five European countries

Wenzelburger, G., Jensen, C., Lee, S. and Arndt, C. (2019) How governments strategically time welfare state reform legislation: empirical evidence from five European countries. West European Politics. ISSN 1743-9655

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/01402382.2019.1668245

Abstract/Summary

Building on studies on the political business cycle, the literature on welfare state retrenchment has argued that governments which cut the welfare state try to avoid blame by implementing painful measures in the beginning of the mandate and expanding benefits as elections approach. In contrast to this linear relationship, we argue that governments often feel pressured to fulfill (mostly expansionary) campaign promises during the first months in office. Consequently, cutting right away is not what should be expected. Instead, a more nuanced, u-shaped timing trajectory is probable with a period in the beginning characterized by both cuts and fulfillment of expansionary pledges, followed by a period of cutbacks, and finally an expansive phase toward the end of a mandate. We test this argument on a new original dataset of legislative changes in five European countries – Britain, Denmark, Finland, France, and Germany – during the last four decades.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Politics, Economics and International Relations > Politics and International Relations
ID Code:86246
Publisher:Routledge

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