This review examines the comparative, empirical literature that concerns the impact of social democracy on welfare state development and on economic performance. The theoretical basis of this research lies in reformist social democratic ideology which, in turn, is given substantial empirical confirmation in the sense that the balance of political power influences outcomes. The case against traditional modernization theory and other critiques is found to be strong, especially when the social democratic effect combines strong left parties with trade unions. The credibility of the social democratic model is particularly strong if we consider its consistent validation in cross-sectional as well as time-series analyses. It is, however, doubtful whether the “social democratic” thesis is applicable outside the framework of the advanced industrial democracies.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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