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Country-level comparisons of welfare state change measures: another facet of the dependent variable problem within the comparative analysis of the welfare state

Kühner, S. (2007) Country-level comparisons of welfare state change measures: another facet of the dependent variable problem within the comparative analysis of the welfare state. Journal of European Social Policy, 17 (1). pp. 5-18. ISSN 0958-9287

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Abstract

The introduction of innovative macro-measures has been one of the preferred means to account for identified limitations of traditional quantitative approaches in comparative analyses of the welfare state. However, these state-of-the-art indicators are not powerful enough to account for the nuanced politics of ‘welfare state change’ across mature welfare states as they produce inconsistent - and in several cases contrary - findings on the country level, which also appear to be at odds with the established notion of ‘regime dependence’ in the historical, case-study literature. Touching upon the limitations of the relevant indicators, we argue that they can at best be seen as crude approximations; this is the root cause for the above asymmetries. The ‘dependent variable problem’ within the comparative analysis of the welfare state is a problem of data and operational definitions as much as it is a problem of theoretical conceptualization. While the combination of nuanced quantitative and historical findings has become the norm in the broader literature, the article stresses the potential of disaggregated analyses of individual social policy domains within nations and its combination with detailed case-study analyses of social policy making.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: comparative social policy • dependent variable problem • welfare reform
Institution: The University of York
Academic Units: The University of York > Social Policy and Social Work (York)
Depositing User: York RAE Import
Date Deposited: 03 Aug 2009 14:03
Last Modified: 03 Aug 2009 14:03
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0958928707071875
Status: Published
Publisher: SAGE Publications (UK and US)
Refereed: Yes
Identification Number: 10.1177/0958928707071875
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/6644

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