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  • Cited by 9
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    Duvander, Ann-Zofie and Ellingsæter, Anne Lise 2016. Cash for childcare schemes in the Nordic welfare states: diverse paths, diverse outcomes. European Societies, Vol. 18, Issue. 1, p. 70.

    Inglot, Tomasz 2016. Path-dependency versus Reform in Pensions and Family Policy Re-examined: Dual Trajectories of the Polish Welfare State since the 1990s. Social Policy & Administration, Vol. 50, Issue. 2, p. 241.

    Mahon, Rianne Bergqvist, Christina and Brennan, Deborah 2016. Social Policy Change: Work-family Tensions in Sweden, Australia and Canada. Social Policy & Administration, Vol. 50, Issue. 2, p. 165.

    Blofield, M. and Martinez Franzoni, J. 2015. Maternalism, Co-responsibility, and Social Equity: A Typology of Work-Family Policies. Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society, Vol. 22, Issue. 1, p. 38.

    Bonoli, G. and Champion, C. 2015. Federalism and Welfare to Work in Switzerland: The Development of Active Social Policies in a Fragmented Welfare State. Publius: The Journal of Federalism, Vol. 45, Issue. 1, p. 77.

    Ferragina, E. and Seeleib-Kaiser, M. 2015. Determinants of a Silent (R)evolution: Understanding the Expansion of Family Policy in Rich OECD Countries. Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society, Vol. 22, Issue. 1, p. 1.

    Ciccia, R. and Bleijenbergh, I. 2014. After the Male Breadwinner Model? Childcare Services and the Division of Labor in European Countries. Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society, Vol. 21, Issue. 1, p. 50.

    ELLINGSÆTER, ANNE LISE 2014. Nordic Earner–Carer Models – Why Stability and Instability?. Journal of Social Policy, Vol. 43, Issue. 03, p. 555.

    Oliver, R. J. and Matzke, M. 2014. Childcare Expansion in Conservative Welfare States: Policy Legacies and the Politics of Decentralized Implementation in Germany and Italy. Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society, Vol. 21, Issue. 2, p. 167.


Path Shifting of the Welfare State: Electoral Competition and the Expansion of Work-Family Policies in Western Europe

  • Kimberly J. Morgan (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 11 January 2013

What explains the surprising growth of work-family policies in several West European countries? Much research on the welfare state emphasizes its institutional stickiness and immunity to major change. Yet, over the past two decades, governments in Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom have introduced important reforms to their welfare regimes, enacting paid leave schemes, expanded rights to part-time work, and greater investments in child care. A comparison of these countries reveals a similar sequence of political and policy change. Faced with growing electoral instability and the decline of core constituencies, party leaders sought to attract dealigning voter groups, such as women. This led them to introduce feminizing reforms of their party structures and adopt policies to support mothers' employment. In all three cases, women working within the parties played an important role in hatching or lobbying for these reforms. After comparing three countries that moved in a path-shifting direction, this article engages in a brief traveling exercise, examining whether a similar set of dynamics are lacking in two countries—Austria and Italy—that have moved more slowly in reforming these policies. Against the prevailing scholarly literature that emphasizes path dependence and slow-moving change, this article reveals the continued power of electoral politics in shaping redistributive policies.

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World Politics
  • ISSN: 0043-8871
  • EISSN: 1086-3338
  • URL: /core/journals/world-politics
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