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The finance-welfare state nexus

Gerba, Eddie and Schelkle, Waltraud ORCID: 0000-0003-4127-107X (2013) The finance-welfare state nexus. ACES cases (2013.1). The American Consortium on EU Studies (ACES), Washington, USA.

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At the height of the financial crisis, the Western welfare state prevented a repeat of the Great Depression. But there were also suggestions that social policy had contributed to the crisis, particularly by promoting households’ access to credit in pursuit of welfare goals. Others claim that it was the withdrawal of state welfare that led to the disaster. Against this background that motivated our interest, we propose a systematic way of assessing the relationship between financial market and public welfare provisions. We use structural vector auto-regression to establish the causal link and its direction. Two hypotheses about this relationship can be inferred from the literature. First, the notion that welfare states ‘decommodify’ livelihoods or that there is an equity-efficiency tradeoff would suggest that welfare states substitute to varying degrees for financial market offers of insurance and savings. By contrast, welfare states may support private interests selectively and/or help markets for households to function better; thus the nexus would be one of complementarity.Our empirical strategy is to spell out the causal mechanisms that can account for a substitutive or complementary relationship and then to see whether advanced econometric techniques find evidence for the existence of either of these mechanisms in six OECD countries. We find complementarity between public welfare (spending and tax subsidies) and life insurance markets for four out of our six countries, notably even for the United States. Substitution between welfare and finance is the more plausible interpretation for France and the Netherlands, which is surprising. Data availability constrains us from testing the implications for the welfare state contribution to the crisis directly but our findings suggest that the welfare state cannot generally be blamed for the financial crisis.

Item Type: Monograph (Report)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2013 The Authors
Divisions: European Institute
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HG Finance
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Date Deposited: 04 Apr 2014 10:51
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 00:07

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