Varieties of federalism, institutional legacies, and social policy: Comparing old-age and unemployment insurance reform in Canada

Authors


Daniel Béland, School of Public Policy, 101 Diefenbaker Place, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7N 5B8, Canada. E-mail: daniel.beland@usask.ca

Abstract

Béland D, Myles J. Varieties of federalism, institutional legacies, and social policy: Comparing old-age and unemployment insurance reform in Canada

With reference to Canada, this article explores the politics of reform affecting two social insurance programs: Employment Insurance (EI) and the Canada Pension Plan (CPP). Comparing these two large, yet institutionally distinct, social insurance schemes underscores how institutional differences in policy legacies and governance among social programs create distinct obstacles and opportunities for reform in federal countries. Drawing on historical institutionalism and emphasizing the types of federalism and decision making specific to EI and CPP, the article explains key political differences between these two programs. Focusing on reforms enacted in the 1990s, the article explores the institutional obstacles and opportunities for policy change in EI and CPP, which offers insight into how these programs could change in the future. We show that different forms of federal governance pointing to the “varieties of federalism” and, more generally, the institutional and territorial logics embedded in these two programs create different obstacles and opportunities for reform.

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