Alexander Horn, Jennifer Shore
Three Worlds of Social Policy Styles: Lasting Legacies or a Thing of the Past?

Pp. 89-104 in: Michael Howlett, Jale Tosun (Eds.): The Routledge Handbook of Policy Styles. 2021. New York: Routledge

The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism, published in 1990 by Gøsta Esping-Andersen, presented a typology of welfare state regimes that seminally shaped theoretical and empirical approaches to the study of social policy and comparative welfare states. While not immune to criticism, Esping-Andersen’s typology remains widely referenced in the social sciences three decades after publication, a trend which is likely to continue into the future as well. Taking the typology of liberal, conservative, and social democratic welfare regimes as a starting point, we ask whether it is possible to identify analogous classifications of countries in terms of social policy styles. More specifically, do we find that contemporary labor market policies and policy-making still reflect the ideas underpinning Esping-Anderson’s typology? To examine these questions, we focus on three countries generally regarded as emblematic of the welfare regime types: Sweden as a social democratic case, Germany as a conservative case, and the United Kingdom as a liberal case, as well as an additional social democratic welfare state – Denmark – in order to examine intra-regime type variation in policy regimes and styles.