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7 - The Small Corporatist Political Economies as European Socio-Economic Model?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 January 2021

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Summary

The political economies of the small, largely corporatist countries analysed in the contributions to this volume have not been immune to the pressures to liberalise that have sprung up notably since the early 1990s. And indeed, liberalisation has taken place to differing degrees. The contributions also show, however, that this process has remained limited. The countries still reveal a high degree of corporatism, and their welfare systems are still considerably more generous than those in countries such as the US in particular, which approximates the liberal type of capitalism. Their labour markets as well as product and company markets are still far removed from the liberal ideal. The exceptions are Switzerland – which generally combines a strong liberal stance with corporatism – and Denmark due to their relatively flexible labour markets, while in Belgium corporatism has suffered due to Flemish-Wallonian tensions. But these exceptions do not change the overall picture.

The small corporatist countries have performed as well as or even better than the strongly liberal ones. With the exception of Switzerland, they have all had high rates of GDP growth per capita as well as per hour; all of them except Belgium have medium to high employment rates; their inequality and poverty rates are relatively low; their concern for the environment is more serious than average (but still not serious enough); and half of them belong to the most innovative – and in that sense most competitive – countries in the world. Table 7.1 summarises these facts.1 Moreover, measured in GDP per capita, these countries are richer than all the Anglo-Saxon countries except the US, and some of them roughly equal the US in GDP per hour. When it comes to specific aspects, other countries rank up there with the corporatist ‘smalls’ – the Anglo-Saxon economies except New Zealand with respect to economic growth; Germany, Japan and the US with respect to innovation and competitiveness; and with respect to employment, the Anglo-Saxon countries and Japan. Nonetheless, the facts clearly demonstrate that top performances are possible without strong liberalisation. This is particularly true for the Nordic countries (except oil-rich Norway) which belong to the top performers in every respect.

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Publisher: Amsterdam University Press
Print publication year: 2012

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