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Globalisation, Domestic Politics, and Welfare State Retrenchment in Capitalist Democracies

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 April 2005

Duane Swank
Department of Political Science, Marquette University E-mail:


Neoliberal reforms in social welfare policy have been common across the developed capitalist democracies in the latter decades of the twentieth century. A central question for political economists has been whether or not economic globalisation has played a significant role in fostering these reforms in public social welfare provision. In the present paper, I review the best recent work on globalisation and the democratic capitalist welfare state. I also provide a synopsis of recent arguments about the domestic political sources of contemporary trajectories of the welfare state. After brief surveys of welfare state retrenchment and recent scholarship, I utilise newly available data to offer an analysis of the impacts of globalisation and key features of domestic politics on 1981–2000 variations in social welfare entitlements and decommodification.

Themed Section on Political Economy and Social Policy
© Cambridge University Press 2005

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