Conference paper

Towards productive welfare? A comparative analysis of 23 OECD countries

Social security Australia OECD countries

Numerous social policy analysts have suggested that globalisation and the emergence of more knowledge based economies have encouraged high income nations to shift away from a model of protective welfare focused on social rights and towards a model of productive welfare focused on social investment. However, much of the work in this area remains purely theoretical, not least because comparative social policy research has tended to focus on the measurement of social protection rather than social investment. Indeed, almost 20 years after its publication, Esping-Andersen’s classification of welfare regimes - largely on the basis of social rights as measured by his decommodification index - still dominates the field. In this paper John Hudson and Stefan Kuhner explore the possibility of developing a complementary classification of welfare state types that incorporates both productive and protective elements of social policy. Using fuzzy set ideal type analysis, they explore data for a sample of 23 OECD countries in three time periods: 1994, 1998 and 2003. Their findings provide no more than very modest support for claims that welfare states are shifting from protective to productive modes of provision and, in many cases, they identify a shift in the alternative direction. In addition, they identify some nations that are clearly productive in their focus and others that manage to combine productive and protective features.

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