Dr. Jan Helmdag from the Swedish Institute for Social Research (SOFI) in Stockholm is currently visiting the CRC 1342. At SOFI, Jan Helmdag is working, among other things, on the Social Policy Indicators Database (SPIN), which contains institutional data on various dimensions of social welfare programmes. During his visit to Bremen, Helmdag gave a lecture as part of the Jour-fixe lecture series and contributed to a workshop of the CRC working group on cash benefits.
At his Jour-fixe lecture, Helmdag presented the results of his doctoral thesis, which he wrote at the University of Greifswald, in front of members of CRC 1342, SCOCIUM and BIGSSS. For his work, Helmdag had analysed 255 quantitative studies on labour market reforms worldwide between 1963 and 2021. He focused on the ideological position of governments on the one hand and on the impact of labour market reforms on the generosity of labour market policy (measured by expenditure on labour market policy instruments and wage replacement rates) on the other.
While the statistical analysis of all 255 studies together - Helmdag speaks here of a "one-size-fits-all" analysis - produced a relatively uniform picture ("There is robust evidence for classical partisanship", i.e. left-wing governments tended to increase spending and wage replacement rates, while right-wing governments tended to cut both), the country-specific analysis produced a fragmented picture:
In terms of spending levels, active labour market policy reforms are predominantly characterised by "new politics", passive labour market policy reforms are characterised by all three faces of partisanship: classical partisanship, reversed partisanship and new politics. Economic factors such as economic growth and unemployment rates had a major influence on the level of expenditure, but political institutions had not. All "faces of partisanship" were also evident in the level of wage replacement rates, whereby government constellations and "veto players" played a greater role than economic factors.
Helmdag concludes from his research that explanatory models based on one-size-fits-all analyses can be very misleading, especially when they refer to a long period of time. Country-specific analyses, on the other hand, offer valuable insights to improve the models.