Politics of Risk-Taking
Welfare State Reform in Advanced Democracies
Distributed for Amsterdam University Press
How much and in which direction have the welfare states among the Western democracies changed over the past decades? Moreover, under what conditions have governments enacted these changes? Based on insights from prospect theory, Barbara Vis demonstrates how socioeconomic or political setbacks affect a government’s view of risk—and thereby the degree and type of reform they pursue. This study’s new theoretical stance and innovative methodological approach make it a must read for those policymakers, scholars, and students interested in the politics of welfare state reform.
Tables and figures
1. The puzzle and its pieces
2. Fuzzy-set analysis
Part I The Degree and Shape of Welfare State Reform
3. Radical change or much ado about nothing?
4. Which governments pursue reform and how much?
Part II Explaining Welfare State Reform
5. What existing studies have to offer and why they fail
6. Bringing in prospect theory
7. Politics of risk-taking
Part III Conclusion
8. Risk-taking in welfare state reform: Summary and implications
Appendix A: Tables
Appendix B: Coding of the degree of unpopular reform pursued by British, Danish, Dutch and German Cabinets, 1979-2005
Appendix C: Coding of the political position of British, Danish, Dutch and German Cabinets 1979-2005
“Given the electoral risks, the question of why governments reform the welfare-state at all has long been in need of an answer. Based on prospect theory, Politics of Risk-taking offers and original answer. It is a must for anyone interested in the politics of welfare-state reforms.”