Coming together or drifting apart? Income maintenance in Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom
Pierson, Christopher and Humpage, Louise (2016) Coming together or drifting apart? Income maintenance in Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. Politics and Policy, 44 (2). pp. 261-293. ISSN 1747-1346
There has been long-standing debate in the comparative welfare state literature as to whether social policy regimes come to look more alike over time (“converge”) or else retain their distinctiveness. In this article, we explore this question through a detailed interrogation of the social policy record since 1996 of three states widely classified as “liberal”: Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. Overall, we find that the social/economic pressures faced by all three countries are more similar now than they were two decades ago and that each has sought to legitimize its politic response to the global financial crisis (GFC) in similar ways. In terms of the three policy areas we explore, we find convergence is much more substantial in “welfare-to-work” than in either child-contingent support, or pensions. But we also find that any straightforward convergence story is unsustainable, despite the GFC and accelerating globalization, and partisan effects remain important.
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