The ‘Dependent Variable Problem’ in Comparative Analysis
Edited by Jochen Clasen and Nico A. Siegel
Chapter 6: Social Rights, Structural Needs and Social Expenditure: A Comparative Study of 18 OECD Countries 1960–2000
Olli Kangas and Joakim Palme INTRODUCTION What has driven the expansion of welfare state expenditures? Why do some countries spend more on social security than others? These basic questions have occupied social scientists’ thoughts for decades. Over time researchers have come to shift the focus both geographically and in terms of level of aggregation. Cutright (1965) and Wilensky (1975) started out by analysing cross-sectional variation in social expenditure among industrial as well as developing countries. The focus was then shifted to the variation in expenditure among the most advanced industrial nations, and the variation over time within nations was also empirically analysed (e.g. O’Connor and Brym, 1988; Pampel and Williamson, 1989; Hicks and Swank, 1992; Huber and Stephens et al., 1993; Hicks and Misra, 1993; Huber and Stephens, 2001; Castles, 2004). Another shift occured when researchers started to examine the development in speciﬁc programmes such as pensions (Pampel and Williamson, 1985; Palme, 1990; Huber and Stephens, 1993), sickness beneﬁts (Kangas, 1991), family beneﬁts (Wennemo, 1994; Ferrarini, 2006), unemployment insurance (Carroll, 1999) and social assistance (Nelson, 2003; Kuivalainen, 2004). Yet comparative research in this area has still remained surprisingly inconclusive. The importance of economic development and party politics has, for example, been given very diﬀerent weights as an explanatory factor. The same applies to the more current ‘welfare state retrenchment’ or the ‘new politics’ of the welfare state literature, where results are even contradictory (see Pierson, 1994; Green-Pedersen, 2000; Korpi and Palme, 2003; Castles, 2004; Siegel, 2005)...
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