Published online by Cambridge University Press: 18 August 2009
Some countries provide universalistic social security benefits, whereas others provide more fragmented social security benefits. Similarly, some countries rely on functional equivalents that allow for occupational targeting, whereas others emphasize geographical targeting. This chapter employs an institutional model of welfare politics to explain why certain policy choices are more likely in a specific institutional context. I use the term structural logic to describe my approach, because political institutions have been known to “structure” politics (Steinmo, Thelen, and Longstreth eds. 1992). Political institutions structure politics by defining the rules of the game (Hall and Taylor 1996; Kato 1996). In so doing, they shape incentives and thereby affect the likelihood of certain actors triumphing over others in the political game. This means that when the structure of the political system changes, so political outcomes are likely to change. The task of this chapter is to identify the institutions that structure welfare politics and to specify the ways in which they do. While the rest of the book applies the structural logic to explain welfare development in postwar Japan, this chapter develops the logic in ways that are applicable to all advanced industrial countries.
This chapter constructs a structural logic of welfare politics in two steps by focusing on institutional factors that affect (a) veto player configurations; and (b) veto players' distributive incentives. Veto players, by definition, are those actors whose consent is required for successful legislation.