Evelyn Huber and John D. Stephens, Development and Crisis of the Welfare State: parties and policies in global markets. (2001).

Key insight: partisan choice – grounded in partisan political economic mobilization and state governance and exercised under the constraint of constitutional structures and policy precedents (i.e. legacies) – determines welfare policy. Over the long run, during the three-decade Golden Age following WWII most particularly, accumulated Left and Christian rule, aided by labour union mobilization and coordinated (as opposed to pure market) economic organization drove a largely irreversible development of post-War welfare policy.


Method: pooled cross-national time series models combined with qualitative case studies.


Critique: regarding the hypothesis that female entry into the labour force buoys welfare policy, especially where left parties tend to rule, Huber and Stephens finding may be artifacts of policy effects on female labour force participation.





*the development is cumulative in the sense that causal forces largely limited to ratcheting up or containing welfare state advance.

**Left/Christian prominence in directing the expansion of welfare states is unequivocally claimed only into early in a post-1973 crisis that transforms relentless development into adaptive slowdown, or reactionary devolution.

**cumulative Christian Рnot social ¬- democratic government is seen as relatively important for social insurance and transfer-payment programmes, while Left government is seen as relatively important for social services, overall state scale, and income redistribution and poverty reduction.

***Left/Christian forces expanding welfare states are complemented by constitutional structures insofar as these engender consensual policy and few veto points.

****they are also complemented by female labour force participation, especially to the extent that this is politically aided by Left governance.

**it is not economic globalization that has driven welfare-state retrenchment, but rather it has been economic stagnation, rooted less in globalization than rising real interest rates (plus such conjunctural factors as the 1990-ish strains of German unification and collapse of Soviet imports) – at least where neoliberal models of economic thinking have been relatively circumscribed (as in Northern and Continental Europe).

***there, stagnation, via a crisis of high and recalcitrant unemployment, has occasioned small downward adjustments of the welfare state.

***where neoliberal views have been more hegemonic, neoliberalism itself, especially when facilitated by Conservative party government and majoritarian and unitary polities (as in the 1980s UK and 1990s New Zealand) has driven deep and reactionary retrenchment.

***causal effects of political partisanship on retrenchment are muted overall.

*the only area in which left power maintained a strong effect was in public employment, as social democratic governments continued to expand it whilst countries with other ruling parties maintained a relatively stable level.


*provides empirical support for adding a wage-earner welfare state (prototypical examples are Australia and New Zealand) to Esping-Andersens worlds of  welfare states.

*in the past, wage-earner regimes protected male breadwinners through highly developed labour arbitration, buttressed by high government protection for domestic markets, designed to maintain high wages.