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Has three decades of comparative public policy scholarship been focusing on the wrong question?

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  • Castles, Francis G.
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    Abstract

    The essential argument of this paper is that, despite the work of many pioneering scholars, the original agenda of those who came to comparative public policy with a view to demonstrating that the functioning of democratic politics makes a difference remains substantially unfulfilled. The substance of that agenda was to show that choices made through the ballot box influenced not only what governments did, but also had implications for important aspects of the lives of the citizens making those choices. One important reason for this failure was that much of the emergent quantitative literature came to focus on differences in government outputs as proxies for whether such differences translated into a diversity of real outcomes. In effect, the literature tried to settle the question of whether politics matters by showing how politics shapes what governments do without asking the no less important question: does government matter? This paper seeks to model a diverse range of outcomes with a view to assessing the impact of both political and government spending and taxing variables. On the basis of that assessment, I argue that the challenge for the next generation of political science informed comparative policy research is to go beyond an examination of the link between political choice and the outputs of government to ask questions about - and ideally to begin to map - the linkages between the things governments do and the lives their citizens experience. -- Das zentrale Argument dieses Papiers lautet, dass die ursprüngliche Agenda der vergleichenden Staatstätigkeitsforschung, wonach politische Faktoren Unterschiede in der Staatstätigkeit bedingen, im Wesentlichen unerfüllt blieb. Kern dieser Agenda war es zu zeigen, dass Wahlentscheidungen nicht nur Staatstätigkeit beeinflussen, sondern auch Auswirkungen auf wichtige Lebensbereiche der Bürger haben, die diese Entscheidung treffen. Ein wichtiger Grund für ihr Scheitern war, dass ein Großteil der quantitativen Literatur Unterschiede in den Outputs als Proxy für unterschiedliche Outcomes in den Blick nahm. Tatsächlich versuchte die Literatur die Frage zu beantworten, ob Politik einen Unterschied macht, indem man zeigte, wie Politik Staatstätigkeit beeinflusst, ohne sich die nicht weniger wichtige Frage zu stellen, ob Staatstätigkeit einen Unterschied macht. Dieses Papier untersucht die Bestimmungsfaktoren einer Reihe unterschiedlicher Outcomeindikatoren. Dabei wird der Einfluss sowohl von politischen Variablen als auch von staatlichen Ausgaben- und Steuerindikatoren untersucht. Auf Basis dieser Untersuchung wird argumentiert, dass die nächste Generation der vergleichenden Policyforschung den Fokus auf Outputindikatoren überwinden und stattdessen die Auswirkungen von Staatstätigkeit auf die Lebenswirklichkeit der Bürger in das Zentrum der Analyse rücken sollte.

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    Paper provided by University of Bremen, Collaborative Research Center 597: Transformations of the State in its series TranState Working Papers with number 155.

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    Date of creation: 2011
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    Handle: RePEc:zbw:sfb597:155

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    1. James W. Shaw & William C. Horrace & Ronald J. Vogel, 2005. "The Determinants of Life Expectancy: An Analysis of the OECD Health Data," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 71(4), pages 768-783, April.
    2. Esping-Andersen, Gosta, 1999. "Social Foundations of Postindustrial Economies," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198742005, September.
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