What's Globalization Got to Do with It? Economic Interdependence and the Future of European Welfare States


  • Colin Hay


The appeal to globalization as a non-negotiable external economic constraint plays an increasingly significant role in the linked politics of expectation suppression and welfare reform in contemporary Europe. Yet, although it threatens to become something of a self- fulfilling prophecy, the thesis that globalization entails welfare retrenchment and convergence is empirically suspect. In this paper it is argued that there is little evidence of convergence amongst European social models and that, although common trajectories can be identified, these have tended to be implemented more or less enthusiastically and at different paces to produce, to date, divergent outcomes. Second, I suggest that it is difficult to see globalization as the principal agent determining the path on which European social models are embarked since the empirical evidence points if anything to de-globalization rather than globalization. The implications of this for the future of the welfare state in Europe and for the USA as a model welfare state regime are explored.