The Risk of Social Policy?

The electoral consequences of welfare state retrenchment and social policy performance in OECD countries

By Nathalie Giger

© 2011 – Routledge

208 pages | 11 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9781138882171
pub: 2015-04-26
US Dollars$49.95
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Hardback: 9780415591980
pub: 2010-11-30
US Dollars$145.00
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About the Book

The Risk of Social Policy? uses a comparative perspective to systematically analyse the effects of social policy reforms and welfare state retrenchment on voting choice for the government. It re-examines twenty elections in OECD countries to show if and how social policy issues drive elections.

This book contributes to the existing literature by providing an empirical analysis of the electoral implications of social policy. Giger asks the basic research question: What are the electoral consequences of social policy performance and retrenchment? More specifically, the following questions are addressed in order to provide a systematic test of the topic: Is retrenchment indeed completely unpopular? Do people punish the government for bad performance in the field of social policy? And what are the political implications of such a punishment reaction; does it affect the government composition? It shows empirically that the risks of welfare state retrenchment to incumbent governments may be lower than previously thought, and presents a theoretical framework for re-examining the impact of retrenchment initiatives on election outcome.

Making an important contribution to studies in political economy and welfare by questioning the assumption that social policy is an inherently controversial policy field in times of elections, The Risk of Social Policy? will be of interest to scholars and students concerned with the interplay between government and citizens, social policy and voting behaviour, and the political economy of welfare.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2.Welfare State Research: The Theoretical Background for the Research Question 3. Electoral Research and Issue Voting: The Theoretical Background for the Analyses 4. The Context: More Theoretical Background for the Analyses 5. Research Strategy, Design and Method 6. The Salience and Performance of Social Policy in Times of Permanent Austerity 7. The Impact of Social Policy Attitudes on the Incumbent Vote 8. Welfare State Retrenchment and the Incumbent Performance on Social Policy 9. Re-Election at Stake? The Impact of Social Policy on the Election Outcome 10. Discussion of Results and Conclusion

About the Author

Nathalie Giger is a researcher at the Mannheim Centre for European Social Research (MZES), University of Mannheim, Germany.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in the Political Economy of the Welfare State

This series presents leading edge research on the recasting of European welfare states. The series is interdisciplinary, featuring contributions from experts in economics, political science and social policy. The books provide a comparative analysis of topical issues, including:

  • reforms of the major social programmes - pensions, health, social security
  • the changing political cleavages in welfare politics
  • policy convergence and social policy innovation
  • the impact of globalization.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POL000000
POLITICAL SCIENCE / General
POL008000
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Process / Elections
POL019000
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Social Services & Welfare
POL029000
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Social Policy