The “new-politics” perspective derives welfare state retrenchment from postindustrial changes generating budget deficits and government attempts to benefit cuts, attempts largely resisted by powerful new groups of welfare-state clients. Comparative studies based on social expenditures show little or no role of class-based parties in the retrenchment process. In the power-resources perspective, focusing on the role of distributive conflicts between major interest groups, the post-war European welfare state included full employment in the “Keynesian welfare state,” based on a social contract markedly differing from the one in the United States. The return of mass unemployment in Europe constitutes a major welfare state regress and generates government budget deficits. Analyses based on social citizenship rights indicate major retrenchment in some countries, with political parties and welfare state institutions playing significant roles. The return of mass unemployment and cuts in social rights appear as a reworking of the European postwar social contract.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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