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The Politics of Justification

The Politics of Justification: Party Competition and Welfare-State Retrenchment in Denmark and the Netherlands from 1982 to 1998

Christoffer Green-Pedersen
Copyright Date: 2002
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    The Politics of Justification
    Book Description:

    The Politics of Justification is an investigation of welfare retrenchment in Denmark and the Netherlands, 1982-1998. Welfare retrenchment is politically highly controversial, but still governments do retrench. This book argues that governments can implement retrenchment if they can achieve a party political consensus allowing them to frame retrenchment in a way that makes it seems justified to the electorate. In the Netherlands, such a consensus emerged in the mid 1980s due to the power of the CDA. It has allowed Dutch government to implement a number of welfare retrenchments. In Denmark, a consensus did not emerge until the Social Democratic Party re-entered government in 1993 explaining why the Danish welfare state has seen less retrenchment than the Dutch one. With its focus on the strategies of the political parties, the book differs from many other studies of the subject focusing on the role of political institutions. This title is available in the OAPEN Library -

    eISBN: 978-90-485-0515-9
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Acknowledgements
    (pp. 5-8)
    Christoffer Green-Pedersen
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. 9-10)
  4. List of abbreviations
    (pp. 11-12)
  5. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 13-18)

    The development of modern welfare states is an issue that has attracted enormous attention within social science. One could easily fill an impressive library with books and articles about the issue. The reasons for this interest are straightforward. The welfare state is a highly important phenomenon in Western societies. It strongly influences the life of nearly the entire population in the Western world. Thus, researchers interested in different subjects such as gender relations (e.g. Lewis 1992; Orloff 1993) or poverty (e.g. Korpi & Palme 1998) automatically come to focus on the welfare state.

    Until about 20 years ago, studying the development...

  6. 2 From theories of expansion to theories of retrenchment
    (pp. 19-30)

    Following Pierson’s seminal work (1994; 1996), it has become conventional wisdom within the literature on welfare-state retrenchment that retrenchment politics are fundamentally different from expansion politics. This indicates that the scholarly debate about welfare-state retrenchment would be markedly different from the debate about welfare-state expansion, which in several respects is also the case (Green-Pedersen & Haverland 2002). Nevertheless, as will become clear below, the retrenchment debate has not started from scratch. It has been influenced by the preceding and ongoing debate about the growth of the welfare state. Therefore, it is necessary to start with a short introduction to the voluminous...

  7. 3 A framework for government choice on retrenchment
    (pp. 31-42)

    This chapter aims at developing a theoretical framework to explain variation in welfare-state retrenchment, both among countries and across social-security schemes. More precisely, the framework seeks to map the factors influencing government decisions on retrenchment. Theoretically, the framework draws on ideas put forward in a number of the studies referred to above and some insights developed by rational-choice theory.

    As the framework is centered on political parties, it is worthwhile to start with some theoretical deliberations on them. The literature on political parties points to three different goals: office, votes, and policy (Strøm 1990a; Müller & Strøm 1999b). This framework is...

  8. 4 Research strategy and research design
    (pp. 43-64)

    The aim of this chapter is to present the research strategy and research design of the study. As will be further explained below, the overall research strategy of this study is comparable case studies. The chapter therefore starts with a discussion of the choice of cases. This includes both the choice of countries, social-security programmes, and time period. The chapter then goes on to discuss the definition and measurement of the dependent variable, namely retrenchment. The overall aim of the empirical parts of the study is to determine whether or not there is empirical support for the theoretical framework developed...

  9. 5 Retrenchments in Denmark and the Netherlands
    (pp. 65-92)

    This chapter first reports the results of the investigation of the extent of retrenchment in each of the selected social-security schemes carried out as described in chapter 4 and appendix 1. The discussion of each scheme is divided into two parts. First, there will be a short description of the scheme as of 1982. Second, there will be an analysis of developments in the scheme from 1982 to 1998, based on the reported calculations of expected and actual savings.¹ These are reported in tables.² The chapter then summarises the findings of variation in retrenchment,³ and compares them with the hypotheses...

  10. 6 Dutch Politics and welfare-state retrenchment. How party competition produced consensus
    (pp. 93-110)

    The aim of this chapter is to take a closer look at Dutch politics and welfare-state retrenchment from 1982 to 1998. Yet, to make sense of what has happened from 1982, it is necessary to start out with a short section on Dutch politics and welfare-state retrenchment in the preceding period, 1973 to 1982. Subsequently, there will be sections describing each of the three types of governments that ruled the Netherlands in this period; the cda-vvd governments from 1982 to 1989, the cda-pvda government from 1989 to 1994, and the pvda-vvd-d66 governments from 1994.

    More specifically, the aim is to...

  11. 7 Danish politics and welfare-state retrenchment: The difficulties of a right-wing government and the possibilities of a left-wing government
    (pp. 111-130)

    This chapter aims to draw a Danish parallel to the Dutch case study of the previous chapter. The chapter begins with a short section on Danish politics and the welfare state in the years preceding 1982, especially the period 1973 to 1982. A second section explores the period of right-wing rule from 1982 to 1993. The third section addresses the period of social democratic-led governments from 1993 to 1998. Finally, some general conclusions are given about the Danish case.¹

    Danish politics have historically been dominated by a left wing and a rightwing bloc. The former has largely been identical to...

  12. 8 The evidence on balance and some quibbles
    (pp. 131-142)

    This chapter aims at two things. First, at briefly summarising the results of both parts of the empirical investigation. This will be done by discussing each of the six hypotheses developed in chapter 4. Second, a number of possible quibbles and alternative explanations will be discussed. Chapter 2 presented a number of theoretical propositions about variation in welfare-state retrenchment. The general aim of the research design was to be able to rule out such alternative explanations. However, this was as always only possible to some extent, leaving a number of plausible alternative explanations that deserve discussion.

    The first hypothesis was...

  13. 9 Party politics matter–summary and implications
    (pp. 143-152)

    This chapter starts with a brief summary of the main findings of the study. The rest of the chapter aims at discussing a number of implications of these findings at two levels. First, the implications for the scholarly debate about welfare-state retrenchment will be discussed. This includes a discussion of the prospects of generalising the insights of this study beyond the cases studied here. Second, the chapter will address the broader question about the political background for the economic ‘miracles’ in the two countries and the implications that this has for the debate about a country’s ability to adjust their...

  14. Appendix
    (pp. 153-158)
  15. Summary
    (pp. 159-164)
  16. Notes
    (pp. 165-174)
  17. References
    (pp. 175-196)
  18. Index
    (pp. 197-208)