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Indebted Societies
Credit and Welfare in Rich Democracies

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Part of Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics

  • Date Published: July 2021
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108971584

$ 34.99 (P)

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About the Authors
  • In many rich democracies, access to financial markets is now a prerequisite for fully participating in labor and housing markets and pursuing educational opportunities. Indebted Societies introduces a new social policy theory of everyday borrowing to examine how the rise of credit as a private alternative to the welfare state creates a new kind of social and economic citizenship. Andreas Wiedemann provides a rich study of income volatility and rising household indebtedness across OECD countries. Weaker social policies and a flexible knowledge economy have increased costs for housing, education, and raising a family - forcing many people into debt. By highlighting how credit markets interact with welfare states, the book helps explain why similar groups of people are more indebted in some countries than others. Moreover, it addresses the fundamental question of whether individuals, states, or markets should be responsible for addressing socio-economic risks and providing social opportunities.

    • The first book to offer a unifying framework with which we can think about household indebtedness through a welfare state perspective
    • Compares individuals across institutional contexts to shed light on the causes and socio-economic and political consequences of rising indebtedness
    • Combines macro- and micro-level data and focuses on the U.S., Germany, and Denmark.
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    • Winner, 2022 William Riker Best Book Award, American Political Science Association

    Reviews & endorsements

    'The world is awash in unprecedented levels of credit and debt. Yet we know very little about the political implications of borrowing. Until now. Andreas Wiedemann's remarkable book revolutionizes our understanding of the political economy of debt, building on a masterful series of analyses of individual and country level data. An absolute must read.' Ben Ansell, University of Oxford

    'This innovative study sheds new light on the relationship between policies granting access to credit and social policies by explaining differences in the ways in which individuals cope with sudden income losses. Access to credit allows households to address temporary loss in income and also affects important investment decisions made by households over the course of the life cycle. Andreas Wiedemann develops a framework for understanding how the ability of households with different income-levels to cope with financial shortfalls differs across countries.' Isabela Mares, Yale University

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2021
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108971584
    • length: 350 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 151 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.52kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Credit and Welfare in Rich Democracies
    2. A Social Policy Theory of Everyday Borrowing
    3. Financial Shortfalls and the Role of Welfare States
    4, Credit Regimes and Patterns of Household Indebtedness
    5. Borrowing to Address Labor Market Risks
    6. Borrowing During the Life Course
    7. The Political and Socio-Economic Consequences of Credit and Debt
    8. Implications and Conclusion.

  • Author

    Andreas Wiedemann, Princeton University, New Jersey
    Andreas Wiedemann is Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at Princeton University and the School for Public and International Affairs. He is also a faculty affiliate with the Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance and the Center for the Study of Democratic Politics at Princeton. He studies the comparative political economy of advanced democracies, focusing on economic inequality, redistribution and social policies, and electoral politics. His most recent work has been published in the American Journal of Political Science and the British Journal of Political Science. Wiedemann's research has been supported by the Social Science Research Council, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Horowitz Foundation for Social Policy, and the Krupp Foundation, among others. He received the Gabriel A. Almond Award for the Best Dissertation in Comparative Politics and the Ernst B. Haas Award for the best dissertation on European Politics and Societies from the American Political Science Association.


    • Winner, 2022 William Riker Best Book Award, American Political Science Association
    • Winner, 2022 Class and Inequality Section Best Book Award, American Political Science Association

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