Are governments actually less popular with the voters if they cut back the welfare state? This question was at the heart of the project “Welfare State Cutbacks and Electoral Punishment” (WSCEP) which now turned into the final year of funding. The core team consisted of four researchers: Prof. Carsten Jensen (PI, Aarhus University, Denmark), Dr. Seonghui Lee (Aarhus University), Dr. Christoph Arndt (University of Reading, UK) and Prof. Georg Wenzelburger (TUK, Germany).
The main work of the project was to create a unique dataset on changes of unemployment and pension legislation in five countries (Denmark, Finland, France, Germany and UK) that measures policy change on a very fine-grained level differentiating between individual policy instruments (e.g. changes to nominal benefits, to the duration period or to the indexation formula). With this new data at hand, several analyses were run, investigating whether governments lose popularity if they cut benefits (yes, they do), whether they gain popularity when they expand the welfare state (yes, they do, but mostly for pensions) or whether the type of instrument matters (yes, it does). At the Kaiserslautern meeting in May, the project team talked about current papers (and revisions to do), set out a plan for future publications (e.g. a final book with Routledge) and discussed avenues for future research based on the great data collected so far. Finally, the guests from Britain and Denmark also got to know the city of Kaiserslautern including a nice dinner during the sunset.
First results of the WSCEP-project were published in the British Journal of Political Science and the Journal of European Social Policy:
Lee, Seonghui/Jensen, Carsten/Arndt, Christph/Wenzelburger, Georg (2017). “Risky Business? Welfare State Reforms and Government Support in Britain and Denmark“, British Journal of Political Science: doi:10.1017/S0007123417000382
Jensen, Carsten/Arndt, Christoph/Lee, Seonghui/Wenzelburger, Georg (2017): „Policy instruments and welfare state reform“, Journal of European Social Policy: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0958928717711974