Duane Swank, Political Institutions and Policy Changes in Developed Welfare States (2002).

Key point: variations in political interests and domestic political institutions continue to affect the policy trajectories of developed welfare states. Globalization pressures are significantly mediated by the presence/absence of social corporatism, electoral inclusion/exclusion, and the degree to which policy-making authority is dispersed. Moreover, the welfare state institutions themselves moderate the effects of internationalization. Swanks findings suggest: that international capital mobility is not systematically and directly related to social welfare policy change, except at high levels of fiscal stress; that domestic political institutions, such as corporatism/pluralism, the structure of welfare state institutions and the dispersion of executive authority systematically shape the effects of internationalization. They also indicate that globalization has limited systematic effects on taxation, social corporatist institutions or macroeconomic policies for full employments.


Method: a combination of quantitative and qualitative analysis, ranging from 1965 to 1993 and involving 15 OECD countries.


Critiques: when using in tandem (1) the institutional context of welfare states (universal, conservative, and liberal), (2) the political institutional context (corporatism/pluralism), and (3) the formal constitutional context (type of electoral system, parliamentarism, presidentialism, federalism, etc.) – all to predict the effects of globalization, there is the problem that welfare states (i.e. (1)) may at least partially be a function (2) and (3). Furthermore, the major part of the book examines the direct effects of globalization, but globalization may effect the welfare state in combination with other processes, i.e. indirectly. These indirect influences are only briefly examined in the book.






*liberal welfare states are more prone to suffer from the market conforming pressures generated by internationalization than are universalist or conservative welfare states.

*the reason why the latter types of welfare state have avoided a race to the bottom is due to the presence within these states of corporatism, inclusive electoral institutions and centralized policy making authority.

*the presence of such political and institutional features helps cushion and isolate the universalist and conservative welfare states from the pressures of globalization.