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Risky Business? Welfare State Reforms and Government Support in Britain and Denmark

Lee, Seonghui and Jensen, Carsten and Arndt, Christoph and Wenzelburger, Georg (2020) 'Risky Business? Welfare State Reforms and Government Support in Britain and Denmark.' British Journal of Political Science, 50 (1). pp. 1-20. ISSN 0007-1234

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Are welfare state reforms electorally dangerous for governments? Political scientists have only recently begun to study this seemingly simple question, and existing work still suffers from two shortcomings. First, it has never tested the reform–vote link with data on actual legislative decisions for enough points in time to allow robust statistical tests. Secondly, it has failed to take into account the many expansionary reforms that have occurred in recent decades. Expansions often happen in the same years as cutbacks. By focusing only on cutbacks, estimates of the effects of reforms on government popularity become biased. This article addresses both shortcomings. The results show that voters punish governments for cutbacks, but also reward them for expansions, making so-called compensation, a viable blame-avoidance strategy. The study also finds that the size of punishments and rewards is roughly the same, suggesting that voters’ well-documented negativity bias does not directly translate into electoral behavior.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: welfare state reforms; government support; unemployment protection; old-age pensions; new politics of welfare state
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Social Sciences > Government, Department of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 21 Jan 2020 15:57
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2022 13:52

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