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The politics of trade-offs: studying the dynamics of welfare state reform with conjoint experiments


Häusermann, Silja; Kurer, Thomas; Traber, Denise (2019). The politics of trade-offs: studying the dynamics of welfare state reform with conjoint experiments. Comparative Political Studies, 52(7):1059-1095.

Abstract

Welfare state reform in times of austerity is notoriously difficult because most citizens oppose retrenchment of social benefits. Governments, thus, tend to combine cutbacks with selective benefit expansions, thereby creating trade-offs: to secure new advantages, citizens must accept painful cutbacks. Prior research has been unable to assess the effectiveness of compensating components in restrictive welfare reforms. We provide novel evidence on feasible reform strategies by applying conjoint survey analysis to a highly realistic direct democratic setting of multidimensional welfare state reform. Drawing on an original survey of Swiss citizens’ attitudes toward comprehensive pension reform, we empirically demonstrate that built-in trade-offs strongly enhance the prospects of restrictive welfare reforms. Our findings indicate that agency matters: governments and policy makers can and must grant the right compensations to the relevant opposition groups to overcome institutional inertia.

Abstract

Welfare state reform in times of austerity is notoriously difficult because most citizens oppose retrenchment of social benefits. Governments, thus, tend to combine cutbacks with selective benefit expansions, thereby creating trade-offs: to secure new advantages, citizens must accept painful cutbacks. Prior research has been unable to assess the effectiveness of compensating components in restrictive welfare reforms. We provide novel evidence on feasible reform strategies by applying conjoint survey analysis to a highly realistic direct democratic setting of multidimensional welfare state reform. Drawing on an original survey of Swiss citizens’ attitudes toward comprehensive pension reform, we empirically demonstrate that built-in trade-offs strongly enhance the prospects of restrictive welfare reforms. Our findings indicate that agency matters: governments and policy makers can and must grant the right compensations to the relevant opposition groups to overcome institutional inertia.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Political Science
Dewey Decimal Classification:320 Political science
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Sociology and Political Science
Uncontrolled Keywords:sociology and political science, pension reform, welfare state reform, welfare state preferences, conjoint experiments
Language:English
Date:June 2019
Deposited On:08 May 2019 13:28
Last Modified:29 Jul 2020 10:42
Publisher:Sage Publications Ltd.
ISSN:0010-4140
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1177/0010414018797943

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