Using a mix of quantitative methods and case study research, this book critically assesses the impact of party governments in different institutional settings on welfare state generosity and labour market reforms. Its key findings contradict earlier established views on the impact of leftist governments on welfare state policies. Specifically, left-wing governments are pursuing clientelistic policies when facing high institutional constraints and austerity and turn out to cater towards the core workforce rather than designing policies for the full range of labour market participants.
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.
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.
While existing scholarship often only looks at spending cutbacks or increases, Hübscheranalyses 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.
The Clientelistic Turn in Welfare State Policy-Making offers the most comprehensive treatment of the strategic dilemmas party governments face in times of fiscal austerity. Evelyne Hübscher provides a compelling account of social welfare policymaking that explains why labor market insiders still enjoy generous welfare entitlements, while poorer groups have turned to more extreme left or populist parties.