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Investigating Welfare State Change

The ‘Dependent Variable Problem’ in Comparative Analysis Edited by Jochen Clasen, Professor of Comparative Social Policy, University of Edinburgh, UK and Nico A. Siegel, Senior Research Manager, The German Socio-Economic Panel, TNS Infratest Sozialforschung, Munich, Germany 
With contributions from leading international scholars, this important book presents a comprehensive examination of conventional indicators (such as social spending), available alternatives (including social rights and conditionality), as well as principal concepts of how to capture change (for example convergence and de-familization). By providing an in-depth discussion of the most salient aspects of the ‘dependent variable problem’, the editors aim to enable a more cumulative build-up of empirical evidence and contribute to constructive theoretical debates about the causes of welfare state change. The volume also offers valuable suggestions as to how the problem might be tackled within empirical cross-national analyses of modern welfare states.
Extent: 352 pp
Hardback Price: £100.00 Web: £90.00
Publication Date: 2007
ISBN: 978 1 84542 739 9
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Paperback Price: £40.00 Web: £32.00
Publication Date: 2008
ISBN: 978 1 84720 989 4
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  • Social Policy and Sociology
  • Comparative Social Policy
  • Welfare States
Contemporary accounts of welfare state change have produced conflicting findings and incompatible theoretical explanations. To a large extent this is due to a ‘dependent variable problem’ within comparative research, whereby there is insufficient consideration of how to conceptualize, operationalize and measure change.

With contributions from leading international scholars, this important book presents a comprehensive examination of conventional indicators (such as social spending), available alternatives (including social rights and conditionality), as well as principal concepts of how to capture change (for example convergence and de-familization). By providing an in-depth discussion of the most salient aspects of the ‘dependent variable problem’, the editors aim to enable a more cumulative build-up of empirical evidence and contribute to constructive theoretical debates about the causes of welfare state change. The volume also offers valuable suggestions as to how the problem might be tackled within empirical cross-national analyses of modern welfare states.

The focus on the methodology of conceptualizing and measuring welfare state change in a comparative perspective gives this unique book widespread appeal amongst scholars and researchers of social policy and sociology, as well as students at both the advanced undergraduate and post-graduate level studying comparative social policy, research methods and welfare reform.
‘The welfare state is a catch-all term which covers a broad range of governmental interventions into social affairs. Over the past decades, social policy scholars have devoted tremendous efforts to analyze those factors that account for cross-national variation and energize the reform trajectories of advanced welfare states. By contrast, the dependent variable has received much less attention: This volume presents a systematic overview of the dependent variable problem in comparative welfare state research. By sketching different approaches on how to conceptualize and measure social policy change and by highlighting their genuine strengths and weaknesses, this volume should be on the bookshelf of everyone interested in comparative social policy research.’
– Stephan Leibfried, University of Bremen, Germany
Contributors: G. Bonoli, J. Clasen, D. Clegg, J. De Deken, C. Green-Pedersen, S. Jochem, O. Kangas, B. Kittel, J. Kvist, S. Leitner, S. Lessenich, J.S. O’Connor, J. Palme, L. Scruggs, N.A Siegel
Contents:

PART I: THE ‘DEPENDENT VARIABLE PROBLEM’ IN COMPARATIVE WELFARE STATE RESEARCH
1. Comparative Welfare State Analysis and the ‘Dependent Variable Problem’
Jochen Clasen and Nico A. Siegel

2. More than Data Questions and Methodological Issues: Theoretical Conceptualization and the Dependent Variable ‘Problem’ in the Study of Welfare Reform
Christoffer Green-Pedersen

3. Too Narrow and Too Wide at Once: The ‘Welfare State’ as Dependent Variable in Policy Analysis
Giuliano Bonoli

PART II: MEASURING AND ANALYSING ‘WELFARE EFFORTS’: SOCIAL EXPENDITURE REVISITED
4. When (Only) Money Matters: The Pros and Cons of Expenditure Analysis
Nico A. Siegel

5. Social Expenditure Under Scrutiny: The Problems of Using Aggregate Spending Data for Assessing Welfare State Dynamics
Johan De Deken and Bernhard Kittel

6. Social Rights, Structural Needs and Social Expenditure: A Comparative Study of 18 OECD Countries 1960–2000
Olli Kangas and Joakim Palme

PART III: BEYOND SPENDING: WELFARE STATE GENEROSITY, SOCIAL RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS
7. Welfare State Generosity Across Space and Time
Lyle Scruggs

8. Levels and Levers of Conditionality: Measuring Change Within Welfare States
Jochen Clasen and Daniel Clegg

9. Exploring Diversity: Measuring Welfare State Change with Fuzzy-Set Methodology
Jon Kvist

PART IV: CAPTURING THE NATURE OF WELFARE STATE CHANGE
10. Convergence in European Welfare State Analysis: Convergence of What?
Julia S. O’Connor

11. (In)Dependence as Dependent Variable: Conceptualizing and Measuring ‘De-familization’
Sigrid Leitner and Stephan Lessenich

12. Pension Reform: Beyond Path Dependency?
Sven Jochem

References

Index