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Continental convergence in the social trilemma? An empirical investigation into the balance of employment, adequate income provision, and fiscal restraint across the 50 United States and enlarged European Union

Structural changes to the global economy and shifting political-institutional conditions have increasingly challenged the ability of American and European welfare states to balance the threeway trade-off of adequate incomes for all, high levels of employment, and fiscal restraint. While comparative welfare state literature has historically identified three different approaches (Nordic, Continental European, and Liberal/'Work-Conditional') to balancing this three-way tradeoff, or "social trilemma", this research project challenges the continued legitimacy of these typological distinctions. Given the decline of the social floor, increasing turn toward activation, and institutional endorsement of the 'social investment strategy' among the 28 EU member states, as well as the recent state-level divergence of social and labour market policies among the 50 United States, this study hypothesizes that the conceptual distinctions among American and European approaches to the social trilemma have been blurred. This project uses policy indicators to assess the structure and net value of income protections across the EU and American states from the mid-1990s through today, while also disentangling the economic and political-institutional drivers of changes in states' approaches to the social trilemma.The research package challenges typological distinctions advanced in prior welfare state research and provides a new evidence base for U.S. and EU policymakers moving forward.
Date:1 Oct 2017  →  14 Apr 2019
Disciplines:Applied sociology, Policy and administration, Social psychology, Social stratification, Social theory and sociological methods, Sociology of life course, family and health, Other sociology and anthropology