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Social Europe: Dramatic Visions and Real Complexity


  • Boeri, Tito


Many social policy reforms have been carried out in Europe in the last fifteen years. Most of these reforms are marginal. Often they are mutually inconsistent. Yet, something is changing in the European social policy landscape and not in the direction implied by the presence of a 'race to the bottom' in social welfare provision. There are no signs of convergence of social policy models across Europe. Further reforms will have to be respectful of the initial conditions, that is, they necessarily have to adapt to the various Social Europes. By imposing the same pattern of reforms to the different European social policy models there is a high risk of jeopardizing reform efforts altogether. An additional reason for not imposing a single European social policy model is that social policy reforms need to be comprehensive, hence they should necessarily work on country-specific institutional clusters. All this makes a strong case for maintaining EU-level decision-making on social policy reforms under unanimity rule. Majority voting on these issues is likely to involve strong pressures to harmonize institutions, while some countries will always be in a minority. One country may receive the worst of each welfare system and make the furthering and broadening of the scope of reforms even more difficult.

Suggested Citation

  • Boeri, Tito, 2000. "Social Europe: Dramatic Visions and Real Complexity," CEPR Discussion Papers 2371, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:2371

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. David T. Coe & Dennis J. Snower, 1997. "Policy Complementarities: The Case for Fundamental Labor Market Reform," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 44(1), pages 1-35, March.
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    5. Blanchard, Olivier & Wolfers, Justin, 2000. "The Role of Shocks and Institutions in the Rise of European Unemployment: The Aggregate Evidence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(462), pages 1-33, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Alberto Alesina & Ignazio Angeloni & Ludger Schuknecht, 2005. "What does the European Union do?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 123(3), pages 275-319, June.
    2. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2003. "Understanding International Differences in the Gender Pay Gap," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(1), pages 106-144, January.
    3. Fehn, Rainer, 2001. "Institutioneller Wettbewerb und soziale Sicherungssysteme in Europa," Discussion Paper Series 45, Julius Maximilian University of W├╝rzburg, Chair of Economic Order and Social Policy.
    4. Berthold, Norbert & Neumann, Michael, 2006. "Europas Sozialstaaten im Schatten der Globalisierung," Discussion Paper Series 88, Julius Maximilian University of W├╝rzburg, Chair of Economic Order and Social Policy.
    5. Nikos Koutsiaras, 2010. "How to Spend it: Putting a Labour Market Modernization Fund in Place of the European Globalization Adjustment Fund," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48, pages 617-640, June.

    More about this item


    Monetary Union; Race To The Bottom; Social Europe;

    JEL classification:

    • H53 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Welfare Programs
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • J68 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Public Policy


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