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Social Policy Responsiveness in Developed Democracies

Clem Brooks and Jeff Manza
American Sociological Review
Vol. 71, No. 3 (Jun., 2006), pp. 474-494
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30039000
Page Count: 21
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Social Policy Responsiveness in Developed Democracies
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Abstract

Do mass policy preferences influence the policy output of welfare states in developed democracies? This is an important issue for welfare state theory and research, and this article presents an analysis that builds from analytical innovations developed in the emerging literature on linkages between mass opinion and public policy. The authors analyze a new dataset combining a measure of social policy preferences with data on welfare state spending, alongside controls for established causal factors behind social policy-making. The analysis provides evidence that policy preferences exert a significant influence over welfare state output. Guided also by statistical tests for endogeneity, the authors find that cross-national differences in the level of policy preferences help to account for a portion of the differences among social, Christian, and liberal welfare state regimes. The results have implications for developing fruitful connections between welfare state scholarship, comparative opinion research, and recent opinion/policy studies.

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