The OECD and European Welfare States

The OECD and European Welfare States

Globalization and Welfare series

Edited by Klaus Armingeon and Michelle Beyeler

The OECD and European Welfare States comprises 14 country studies considering OECD recommendations and their implementation in Western European welfare states, an analysis of the internal processes in the OECD, a theoretical introduction and a concluding comparative chapter. The overall results show a large degree of consistency in OECD analyses and recommendations, though little efficacy is revealed. The authors of this book have compiled a major contribution to the analysis of the impact of international organisations on national welfare states, widening the scope of traditional analyses of national welfare state development.

Chapter 17: OECD and national welfare state development

Klaus Armingeon

Subjects: politics and public policy, european politics and policy, social policy and sociology, welfare states


Klaus Armingeon INTRODUCTION Economic surveys are a key product of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and its secretariat in Paris. The organisation analyses and assesses a wide range of policy areas that have the potential to improve economic performance. It evaluates national experience in the light of international best practice, and provides specific policy recommendations.1 Economic surveys offer recommendations based on empirical analyses of a country’s economy. After focusing on purely economic issues for a long time, in the 1990s the surveys increasingly considered questions of social policy with regard to their economic implications. One of the core tasks of the OECD is to spread ‘best practice’ information through these and related analyses. The OECD is convinced that national policy makers take into account its recommendations (Sullivan 1997, p. 62): proving the effectiveness of the surveys and their recommendations. A second claim concerns the consistency of its analyses and recommendations across time and for different countries. Since the OECD identifies ‘best practices’, neither the benchmarks for analysis nor the type of advice given should vary depending on the nation under study or the timeframe – at least in the short term. If both claims of consistency and efficacy are justified, the OECD is a powerful international organisation. Its recommendations should have farreaching implications on social and economic policy in fields like employment and unemployment benefits, pensions, health policy, education and the alleviation of poverty. By its own evaluation, the secretariat and its general secretary in Paris adhered to...

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