Convergence Pressures and Responses: Recent Social Insurance Development in Modern Welfare States

in Comparative Sociology
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Abstract

Pressures from global market forces along with austerity and retrenchment have generated predictions of converging welfare state institutions. The purpose of this paper is to examine the development of social insurance programs among 18 of the economically most advanced democracies during 1980–2000. Have social insurance rights converged and have changes been of such a character that we can discern converging trends of social insurance models? The results indicate convergence in the replacement rates, coverage and employer financing of social insurance benefits up to 1980, after which these signs of convergence tend to disappear or transform into divergence. Rather than countries becoming reclassified, changes implemented in social insurance rights appear to have strengthened the distinctive characteristics of social insurance models identified.

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