- Regionalization and Retrenchment: The Impact of European Integration on the Welfare State
- Download: PDF 215.4 KB
- by Beckfield, Jason
- This paper demonstrates the utility of a sociology of regional integration by addressing two central questions that have sparked much debate over the welfare state. Is there evidence of long-anticipated retrenchment? Does globalization cause that retrenchment? I redirect these debates by showing that there is evidence of retrenchment in Europe, and that regional integration—not globalization – accounts for it. Regional integration is conceptualized as the construction of supranational political economy in negotiated and bounded regions through political institutionalization and market expansion. I develop the argument that regional political integration should constrain the welfare state through policy feedbacks, the politics of blame avoidance, and the diffusion of classical-liberal policy scripts, while regional economic integration should constrain the welfare state by expanding labor markets and undermining labor
unions. I assess these arguments with time-series cross-section models and data from 13 European Union (EU) and non-EU states. The results show that (1) there is evidence of
retrenchment, (2) regionalization is significantly associated with retrenchment, and (3) the effect of regional integration is dampened in the strongest welfare states. I draw the general conclusion that regional integration is a new and consequential part of the social context that should receive
more attention from sociologists.
- Publication Type: WCFIA Working Paper
- Published Date: 2008
- Field of Interest: Global Issues
- Beckfield, Jason. "Regionalization and Retrenchment: The Impact of European Integration on the Welfare State." Working Paper 2008-0069, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University, 2006.
- The larger project from which this paper was drawn was awarded the American Sociological Association Dissertation Award in 2006.