Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

Enggist, Matthias and Michael Pinggera (2021): Radical right parties and their welfare state stances — not so blurry after all? West European Politics. pdf | abstract

Recent literature shows that radical right parties (RRPs) present moderate or blurry economic stances. However, this article argues that this blurriness is restricted to only one of the two main conflicts of contemporary welfare politics, namely on questions centring on welfare generosity. In contrast, when it comes to the goals and principles the welfare state should meet, RRPs take a clear stance favouring consumption policies such as old age pensions over social investment, in accordance with their voters’ preferences. The empirical analysis based on new, fine-grained coding of welfare stances in party manifestos and original data on voters’ perceptions of party stances in seven European countries supports this argument. RRPs de-emphasise how much welfare state they want while consistently and clearly defending the traditional welfare state’s consumptive focus against recalibration proposals. These findings have important implications for party competition and welfare politics.

Häusermann, Silja, Michael Pinggera, Macarena Ares, and Matthias Enggist (2021): Class and social policy in the knowledge economy. European Journal of Political Research. pdf | abstract

Recent studies of welfare state attitudes in the knowledge economy find very high generalized support for generous welfare state policies, both among the working and the middle classes. Has class become irrelevant as a predictor of social policy preferences? Or do we simply misconceptualise today’s class conflict over social policy? To what extent has it changed from a divide over the level of social policy generosity to a divide over the kind of social policy and – more specifically – over the relative importance that should be given to different social policies? Answering these questions is not only relevant to understand welfare politics in the 21st century, but electoral politics as well: only when we understand what working- and middle-class voters care about, can we evaluate the role distributive policies play in electoral processes. We use original survey data from eight West European countries to show that middle- and working-class respondents indeed differ in the relative importance they attribute to social investment and social consumption policies. Middle-class respondents consistently attribute higher absolute and relative importance to social investment. We also show that this emphasis on investive policies relates to the middle class expecting better future economic and social opportunities than the working class. This divide in anticipated opportunities underlies a new kind of working- vs. middle-class divide, which contributes to transforming the class divide from a conflict over the level of social policy to a conflict over the priorities of social policy.

Pinggera, Michael (2020): Congruent with whom? Parties’ issue emphases and voter preferences in welfare politics. Journal of European Public Policy. pdf | abstract

Over the last decades we have witnessed a growing support coalition for the welfare state and at the same time an increase in conflict over its specific design. In this context of high but specific support for social policy, parties engage in issue competition. The question therefor arises as to how well parties’ social policy issue emphases match voters’ preferences and which voters’ preferences do they match? Building on issue yield theory (De Sio & Weber, 2014), I argue that parties emphasise bridge policies; policies that enjoy high support both among partisans and among the general electorate. Using an original online-survey and a new and fine-grained coding of social policy emphasis in party manifestos from seven West European countries, I find that parties, irrespective of party family, are indeed congruent with both supporters and the general electorate. Hence, general congruence is quite high, but specifically directed towards broadly supported issues.

Book Chapters

Garritzmann, Julian L., Silja Häusermann, Thomas Kurer, Bruno Palier, and Michael Pinggera (forthcoming in 2021): The Emergence of Knowledge Economies: Educational Expansion, Labor Market Changes, and the Politics of Social Investment. In The World Politics of Social Investment (Volume I): Welfare States in the Knowledge Economy, J.L. Garritzmann, S. Häusermann, and B. Palier (eds). Oxford: Oxford University Press. abstract

The creation, preservation and mobilization of human skills and capabilities are the defining functions of social investment policies (cf. the Introduction of this Volume). This is why social investment has often been seen as a necessary correlate of the knowledge economy, a context in which cognitive skills are ever more relevant both at the individual-level (e.g., for higher incomes, better working conditions, and improved health and well-being) and at the macrolevel (e.g., for economic growth, social cohesion, and innovation). Hence, the structural and institutional underpinnings of the politics of social investment need to be understood with reference to educational and occupational trends. This chapter traces the development of regional varieties of knowledge economies over the past two centuries. We show massive educational expansion across all world regions, with a specific shift towards tertiary education and cognitive skills in the most advanced capitalist democracies (the OECD economies). Hence, in a second step, the chapter focuses on these advanced capitalist democracies, and traces the relationship between educational expansion and labor market changes. Using large-scale labor market data, we show that the trend towards advanced knowledge economies has coincided with a fundamental change in the occupational structure. We identify a pattern of ‘skill upgrading’ and simultaneous vanishing of ‘medium-skilled’ jobs, resulting in a trend towards ‘job polarization’ in all countries. We also analyze to what extent the occupational transformation varies across contexts, i.e. by welfare legacies. In the final part of the chapter we discuss the implications of these changes for popular and economic demand for social investment policies, and for the politics of social investment more generally. We argue that increasing economic as well as societal demand for high-skilled labor shape (but do not determine) the politics of social investment, by affecting the degree and kind of politicization of social investment as well as potential reform coalitions.

Häusermann, Silja, Matthias Enggist, and Michael Pinggera (2019): Sozialpolitik in Hard Times. In Handbuch Sozialpolitik, H. Obinger and M. Schmidt (eds). Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften. abstract

Dieser Beitrag skizziert aus vergleichender Perspektive die Grundzüge der Entwicklung des westlichen Wohlfahrtsstaates seit den 1980er Jahren. Er beleuchtet anhand verschiedener Indikatoren die Debatte um Stabilität oder Rückbau sozialpolitischer Leistungen und zeigt aktuelle Entwicklungen sozialstaatlicher Politik auf.

Non-Peer Reviewed Articles

Häusermann, Silja, Macarena Ares, Matthias Enggist, and Michael Pinggera (2020): Mass public attitudes on social policy priorities and reforms in Western Europe. WELFAREPRIORITIES dataset 2020. Welfarepriorities Working Paper Series, n°1/20. pdf | abstract

This paper presents the WELFAREPRIORITIES dataset 2020, which contains new and detailed data on citizens’ attitudes regarding social policies, the relative importance citizens attribute to different social policy fields (old age pensions, childcare services, higher education, active labor market policy, unemployment benefits, social assistance), their social policy experiences, their perceptions of party positions regarding social policy, voters’ electoral preferences, as well as respondents’ social status, status mobility and socio-demographics. The representative sample consists of 12’000 respondents in 8 West European countries (Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Italy, UK, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark). Through detailed information on voters’ social policy priorities (measured through conjoint experiments, point distribution question and trade-off questions), the data allows to study new research questions in the field of the mass politics of welfare state development and reform. The dataset also contains extensive information regarding voter preferences, and thus allows to link the study of electoral politics, partisan competition and welfare politics in new ways. This paper presents the motivation and implementation of the data collection, the data itself (including the codebook) and its validation.

Häusermann, Silja, Thomas Kurer, Michael Pinggera, and Denise Traber (2018): Mehrheitsfähigkeit der Altersvorsorge 2020: Die Bewertung der Reformelemente durch die Stimmbürgerinnen und Stimmbürger vor der Abstimmung. Swiss Political Science Review 24(1): 69-78. pdf | abstract

Nach einem mehr als f€unf Jahre dauernden Gesetzgebungsprozess ist die Vorlage «Altersvorsorge 2020» zur Reform der ersten und zweiten S€aule der Schweizerischen Altersrentenversicherung im September 2017 in der Volksabstimmung gescheitert. Dies obwohl die Finanzierungsszenarien einen klaren Sicherungsbedarf ausweisen, und obwohl fast 90 Prozent der Stimmb€urgerinnen und Stimmb€urger Reformen in der Altersvorsorge f€ur notwendig halten. Es liegt daher auf der Hand, dass Bundesrat und Parlament in den kommenden Jahren dem Souver€an weitere Reformvorhaben unterbreiten werden. Wie sollen diese Reformen aus Sicht der Stimmb€urgerinnen und Stimmb€urger ausgestaltet sein? Welches sind mehrheitsf€ahige und welches sind umstrittene Elemente?…