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The welfare state over the very long run


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  • Pierson, Paul
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    New data makes it possible to measure the evolution of social program generosity over the roughly three decades since the affluent democracies entered the era of austerity. Compared with plausible expectations derived from power resource theory, as well as prior historical experience, these data reveal a striking level of stability in benefits. This finding has important implications for the study of the welfare state; rather than focusing exclusively on accounting for variation in program outcomes over time and across countries, we need to consider why there is often relatively little variation to explain. At the same time, this relative stability at the level of programs co-exists with dramatic change in social context as well dramatic shifts in other aspects of the post-war social contract. The ramifications of programmatic stability can only be understood by situating it within these broader patterns of social transformation. -- Neue Daten ermöglichen uns heute die Messung, wie sich die Generosität von Sozialleistungen in den letzten drei Jahrzehnten entwickelt hat - also in jener Phase, in der die reichen Demokratien in das Zeitalter der Austerität eingetreten sind. Im Vergleich zu den Erwartungen der Machtressourcen-Theorie und zu historischen Erfahrungen zeigen die Daten eine bemerkenswerte Stabilität im Hinblick auf die Höhe der Sozialleistungen. Dieser Befund besitzt erhebliche Implikationen für die Sozialstaatsforschung. Diese sollte sich nicht mehr nur auf die Erklärung der Unterschiede von Outcomes im Zeitverlauf und zwischen Ländern beschränken, sondern auch die Frage stellen, weshalb oftmals die zu erklärenden Unterschiede so gering sind. Gleichzeitig geht die Stabilität der Sozialleistungen Hand in Hand mit dramatischen Veränderungen im gesellschaftlichen Umfeld und tiefgreifenden Umwälzungen in der Nachkriegsordnung. Die Konsequenzen dieser Stabilität verstehen wir nur dann, wenn wir sie als Teil einer umfassenden sozialen Transformation begreifen.

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    Paper provided by University of Bremen, Centre for Social Policy Research (ZeS) in its series Working papers of the ZeS with number 02/2011.

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    Date of creation: 2011
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    Handle: RePEc:zbw:zeswps:022011

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