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Bringing the international economy back in: welfare system change in Sweden, Britain and the US, 1975‐85

John O’Connor (Department of Sociology, University of Massachusetts)

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Article publication date: 1 March 1998

Abstract

Evaluates changes in the welfare system in Sweden, the UK and the USA over a decade, basing arguments on the divergence of economic globalization and domestic forces. Presents brief economic snapshots of each country, stating quite categorically that the welfare state is an impediment to capitalist profit‐making, hence all three nations have retrenched welfare systems in the hope of remaining globally economically competitive. Lays the responsibility for retrenchment firmly at the door of conservative political parties. Takes into account public opinion, national institutional structures, multiculturalism and class issues. Explores domestic structures of accumulation (DSA) and refers to changes in the international economy, particularly the Bretton Woods system (Pax Americana), and notes how the economic health of nations mirrors that of the US. Investigates the roles of multinationals and direct foreign investment in the global economy, returning to how economic policy affects the welfare state. Points out the changes made to the welfare state through privatization, decentralization and modification of public sector financing. Concludes that the main result has been an increase in earnings inequality and poverty.

Keywords

Citation

O’Connor, J. (1998), "Bringing the international economy back in: welfare system change in Sweden, Britain and the US, 1975‐85", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 18 No. 2/3/4, pp. 50-102. https://doi.org/10.1108/01443339810788353

Publisher

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MCB UP Ltd

Copyright © 1998, MCB UP Limited