Nathalie Giger

  The Risk of Social Policy?  
  The electoral consequences of welfare state retrenchment and social policy performance in OECD countries vergrößerte Ansicht in neuem Fenster  
  Routledge/EUI Studies in the Political Economy of the Welfare State; 13  
  208 p., New York [u.a.] : Routledge, 2011  
  ISBN 978-0-415-59198-0  

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Note on Author


The Risk of Social Policy? uses a comparative perspective to systematically analyse the effects of social policy reforms and welfare state retrenchment on voting choice for the government. It re-examines twenty elections in OECD countries to show if and how social policy issues drive elections.
This book contributes to the existing literature by providing an empirical analysis of the electoral implications of social policy. Giger asks the basic research question: What are the electoral consequences of social policy performance and retrenchment? More specifically, the following questions are addressed in order to provide a systematic test of the topic: Is retrenchment indeed completely unpopular? Do people punish the government for bad performance in the field of social policy? And what are the political implications of such a punishment reaction; does it affect the government composition? It shows empirically that the risks of welfare state retrenchment to incumbent governments may be lower than previously thought, and presents a theoretical framework for re-examining the impact of retrenchment initiatives on election outcome.
Making an important contribution to studies in political economy and welfare by questioning the assumption that social policy is an inherently controversial policy field in times of elections, The Risk of Social Policy? will be of interest to scholars and students concerned with the interplay between government and citizens, social policy and voting behaviour, and the political economy of welfare.


1 Introduction
1.1 Research question
1.2 Structure of the book
2 Welfare state research: the theoretical background for the research question
2.1 Theories of welfare state development
2.2 Empirical development of Western welfare states
2.3 Public support for the welfare state
2.4 My research question embedded in the welfare state literature
3 Electoral research and issue voting: the theoretical background for the analyses
3.1 Issue voting theory
3.2 Categorizations of issue effects
3.3 Issue salience, attitude accessibility and the link between attitudes and behaviour
3.4 Empirical evidence for issue voting
3.5 Some concluding remarks
3.6 My research question in an electoral research framework
4 The context: more theoretical background for the analyses
4.1 Individuals nested in contexts
4.2 The clarity of responsibility
4.3 The welfare state environment
4.4 The electoral campaign
4.5 The context and implications for my research question
5 Research strategy, design and method
5.1 Elaboration of research steps and main hypotheses
5.2 Research strategy
5.3 Research design: data and time period
5.4 Two theoretical models
5.5 Practical issues – the theoretical models and the actual data
5.6 Method
6 The salience and performance of social policy in times of permanent austerity
6.1 The salience of social policy
6.2 The performance of social policy
6.3 Summary
7 The impact of social policy attitudes on the incumbent vote
7.1 The impact of social policy salience
7.2 The impact of social policy performance
7.3 The impact of social policy salience and performance on defection from incumbent vote
7.4 Summary of evidence of social policy attitudes
7.5 The impact of the context on the relationship between social policy attitudes and the incumbent vote
7.6 Summary of evidence for contextual influences
8 Welfare state retrenchment and the incumbent performance in social policy
8.1 Individual-level factors and contextual controls
8.2 The influence of welfare state reforms
8.3 Summary
9 Re-election at stake? The impact of social policy on the election outcome
9.1 The relative influence of the issue of social policy
9.2 The relative influence of social policy performance
9.3 Welfare state retrenchment and the campaign salience of social policy
9.4 The influence of social policy on real-world government composition
9.5 Summar
10 Discussion of results and conclusion
10.1 Joint discussion of results
10.2 General implications for the literature
10.3 Future research proposals

Notes on Author

Nathalie Giger is a researcher at the Mannheim Centre for European Social Research (MZES), University of Mannheim, Germany.