This study shows that in times of austerity, party governments resort to new patterns of policy-making and reforms, which deviate from conventional wisdom.
In contrast to earlier research examining the politics of welfare state reforms, this study finds clear partisan effects, and highlights the emergence of new, clientelistic patterns of policy-making, which have the power to affect societal structures.
Using a mix of quantitative methods and case study research into labour market reforms in Germany and Ireland, this book critically assesses how governments in different institutional settings influence welfare state generosity and labour market reforms.
Its key findings enrich our understanding of the impact leftist governments have on welfare state policies. Specifically, left-wing governments pursue clientelistic policies when facing high institutional constraints and austerity and tend to cater for the core workforce rather than designing policies for the full range of labour market participants, including those in precarious employment relations.
'Evelyne Hübscher elegantly links the literature on social and fiscal reforms with insights from insider-outsider politics. The remarkable, and worrisome result is a return of clientelistic politics as left parties cater increasingly to core electorates leaving real outsiders behind. An authoritative analysis for all comparative political economists working on these issues.'
Achim Kemmerling, Erfurt Universität
'Evelyne Hübscher’s excellent and timely book challenges the emerging consensus in the literature that parties no longer matter in welfare state policy-making. She demonstrates not only that left and right governments still leave their imprint on welfare-state reforms but also that left-wing governments facing high institutional constraints tend to protect the interests of their core electorates at the expense of labour market outsiders. This argument offers new perspectives on the electoral decline of social democracy and the rise of populist challenger parties.'
Oliver Treib, University of Münster
'While existing scholarship often only looks at spending cutbacks or increases, Huebscher analyses welfare reforms as instruments used by political parties to include and exclude electoral constituencies. Coupling an innovative theoretical framework focusing on party politics with a rare combination of quantitative analyses and case studies, this will be essential reading for welfare state scholars.'
Alexandre Afonso, Leiden University