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Beyond the Big Picture: Gender Influences on Disaggregated and Domain-Specific Measures of Social Spending, 1980–1999

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 March 2011

Catherine Bolzendahl
University of California, Irvine


Three issues are central to, but underdeveloped in, theoretical debates about the welfare state. First, the array of welfare services is of equal, or greater, importance than welfare transfers; second, spending varies across substantively different domains; and third, the welfare state is profoundly shaped by gender. While a comprehensive body of research has provided many claims and critiques on these points, their potential for empirical examination has not been fully realized. This article addresses these points by analyzing development according to substantively disaggregated measures of welfare spending, as well as theorizing and testing explicit gender-relevant influences alongside established indicators. Results from cross-sectional and fixed-effect models indicate that established factors are particularly relevant for transfer spending, and much less so for services. Notably, gender measures emerge as strong determinants of services spending generally, but the specific impact of gender varies according to both the substantive spending domain and the aspect of gender being measured. The findings, overall, show strong support for the broader inclusion of gender, and the utility of moving beyond programmatic generalist approaches.

Research Article
Copyright © The Women and Politics Research Section of the American Political Science Association 2011

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