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Partisan Effects on Welfare State Retrenchment: Empirical Evidence from a Measurement of Government Intentions

Authors

  • Michael Baggesen Klitgaard,

    1. Department of Political Science, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark
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  • Christian Elmelund-Præstekær

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Political Science, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark
      Dr Christian Elmelund-Præstekær, Department of Political Science, University of Southern Denmark, Campusvej 55, Odense M 5230, Denmark. Email: cel@sam.sdu.dk
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Dr Christian Elmelund-Præstekær, Department of Political Science, University of Southern Denmark, Campusvej 55, Odense M 5230, Denmark. Email: cel@sam.sdu.dk

Abstract

The effect of partisanship is disputed in the literature on welfare state retrenchment. The ‘new politics’ school argues that partisan conflicts are irrelevant to the understanding of retrenchment, but the second generation of retrenchment research concludes that such conflicts are still important. We engage in this debate by introducing a new empirical approach. Our method provides a necessary but currently missing link in the second generation of retrenchment studies which theorize on the input side of welfare state reform but conduct empirical studies on the output side. Our empirical approach entails a new type of data, compiled on the basis of content analysis of adopted laws, and we analyze the intentions pursued by incumbent governments in social policy-making. Based on an empirical study, we find partisan effects in programmes protecting against social risks that are disproportionally distributed among social strata.

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