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  • Print publication year: 2009
  • Online publication date: February 2010

5 - Expansion in Active Protection


This chapter focuses on the active dimension of social protection. As its name suggests, active social protection operates primarily by facilitating entry into the labor market for the unemployed and those out of the labor force. Fiscally, implementation of active labor market programs requires very large increases in public spending. Intellectually, active social protection requires a clear ideological transformation, toward a more productivist notion of solidarity and prioritarian orientation in social democratic egalitarianism. The active dimension of social protection is where the difference between social democrats and their center-right counterparts is clearest in policy paradigms.

Across the nine countries examined here, the transfer of power to social democracy almost always initiated the clear expansion of various measures in active social protection. By contrast, center-right incumbency demonstrated much less enthusiasm in increasing the active measures. Instead, there was either little action or, in some cases, much enthusiasm for rolling back existing active schemes. Such consistent policy contrast between left and right incumbencies across diverse country settings clearly reflects a power resources pattern of welfare state changes. While there are strong policy paradigm contrasts for different partisan governments, within the same type of partisan government there are also enormous diversities across countries in policy implementation. Here, institutional constraints provide the key explanation.

On a theoretical level, the nine country cases in this chapter illustrate the combination between a power-resources explanation of policy paradigms and a path-dependent explanation of policy implementation.

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