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Into an Age of Multiple Austerities? Public Management and Public Service Bargains across OECD Countries



This article focuses on Public Service Bargains (PSBs) in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) world in an age of austerity and makes four main claims. First, both logic and recent history suggest that states can respond to financial crises in more than one way. Second, we argue that the pressures on existing PSBs are not all the same in this group of states, given observable differences in their financial vulnerability. Third, we analyze countries' differential exposure to two other major challenges, namely, that of population aging and environmental risk. Fourth, we show that those areas of vulnerability can counteract one another in some cases but be mutually reinforcing in others, and we argue that “triply vulnerable” states in a composite analysis are those likely to face the strongest pressure to change their existing PSBs. We conclude that while homogenizing pressures cannot be ignored, PSB diversity is likely to continue.