From Vulnerability to Competitiveness

From Vulnerability to Competitiveness

From Vulnerability to Competitiveness

From Vulnerability to Competitiveness

Synopsis

In this ground-breaking, two-volume study of the adjustment of advanced welfare states to international economic pressures, leading sholars detail the wide variety of responses in twelve countries. Volume I presents comparative analyses of different countries' vulnerabilities and capabilities, the effectiveness of their policy responses, and the role of values and discourse in the politics of adjustment. Volume II presents in-depth analyses of the experiences of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom as well as special studies on the participation of women in the labour market, early retirement, the liberalization of public services, and international tax competition.

Excerpt

Since the demise of the cold war with its fear of a nuclear doomsday, 'globalization' has become the current specter of public debates in western Europe, threatening to wipe out the achievements of advanced welfare states in providing full employment, social security and greater social equality for their citizens. At the same time, these debates have seen an ever more rapid succession of 'model' countries that seemed to have found some miracle solution, and that were displaced by the next one when, on closer inspection, the miracle turned out to be less than perfect. Thus Japan, celebrated as the world leader in industrial productivity, was succeeded by the 'Rhineland model' of social consensus and stability, which in turn was forgotten when admiration shifted first to New Zealand's radical liberalization, and then to the 'great American job machine', which subsequently was overshadowed by the Dutch 'polder model', by growing attention to the Danish achievements in defending high levels of employment and social protection, and now by peak-level discussions about 'multiple Third Ways'.

When we first began to talk about the possibility of a joint project that would clarify these issues in early 1997, the academic literature was split between theoretical contributions: some warning of inexorably tightening economic constraints that were reversing postwar advances in the democratic civilization of capitalism, and others celebrating the ultimate liberation of economic dynamics from the fetters of state control. The available empirical research provided either statistical tests of hypotheses focused narrowly on a few quantifiable indicators or case studies dealing in depth with selected issues in one or a few countries. Thus, what was needed in our view was empirical and comparative research that would utilize much more information about specific problems and policy responses of advanced welfare states than was possible in statistical studies, and that would also be more comprehensive with regard to issues as well as the number of countries than had been possible in the available case studies. In a series of discussions among ourselves and with knowledgeable colleagues, we concluded that such a project would have to include at least Sweden and Denmark among the Scandinavian welfare states; Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Switzerland, and Italy in Continental Europe; and the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand among the Anglo-Saxon countries. We also decided to focus on

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