• Social policy;
  • Collective action;
  • Common pool resources;
  • Actor-centred institutionalism;
  • Policy change


Social policy development and reform in corporatist welfare states often follows a pattern of subsequent collectivization and de-collectivization. This has to do, the article argues, with the social problems these phases address. Early social policy development forms a response to Olson-type collective action problems that organized actors (labour and employers' organizations) in the field experience: state-obliged benefits solve free rider problems, while bipartite administration allows labour and employers' organizations to organize their constituencies. This solution to Olson-type collective action problems, however, also constitutes an Ostrom-type collective action problem. Such a system functions as a common pool resource. Individual benefit take-up is experienced as free and the costs of benefit take-up are collectivized in the common pool. The article illustrates this pattern with reference to Dutch disability insurance.