How governments strategically time welfare state reform legislation: empirical evidence from five European countries

Author (Person) , , ,
Series Title
Series Details Volume 43, Number 6, Pages 1285-1314
Publication Date November 2020
Content Type


Building on studies on the political business cycle, the literature on welfare state retrenchment has argued that governments which cut the welfare state try to avoid blame by implementing painful measures in the beginning of the mandate and expanding benefits as elections approach.

In contrast to this linear relationship, this article argues that governments often feel pressured to fulfil (mostly expansionary) campaign promises during the first months in office. Consequently, cutting right away is not what should be expected. Instead, a more nuanced, U-shaped timing trajectory is probable with a period in the beginning characterised by both cuts and fulfilment of expansionary pledges, followed by a period of cutbacks, and finally an expansive phase towards the end of a mandate.

This argument is tested on our new original dataset of legislative changes in five European countries – Britain, Denmark, Finland, France and Germany – during the last four decades.

Source Link
Subject Categories
Subject Tags
Countries / Regions , , , ,