Title page for ETD etd-07052006-105643

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Beal, Amanda Louise
URN etd-07052006-105643
Title Federalism, Checks and the Welfare State: A Cross National Analysis
Degree Master of Arts (M.A.)
Department Political Science
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
William Clark Committee Chair
Leonard Ray Committee Co-Chair
Cameron Thies Committee Member
  • social policy
  • political institutions
  • comparative constitutions
  • downsian platform convergence
Date of Defense 2006-05-18
Availability unrestricted
It is often asserted in the institutional literature that there is a trade-off between effective and efficient government. Effective government is often stipulated to be more representative, while efficient government is considered superior at passing legislation. This analysis critiques Arend Lijphart's theory that consensus democracies are more representative, and therefore, result in "kinder, gentler" democracies with more encompassing social policies. I hypothesize that more representative government - operationalized as having higher levels of fractionalization within the legislature, more federalism and more checks within the system - is actually more effective at translating the median voter's preference for occupationally dependent or targeted welfare policies into legislation. Consequently, states with more institutional autonomy will be more efficient at passing larger forms of welfare legislation. Through a cross sectional OLS multivariate regression analysis, I find that federalism is negatively correlated with the level of social expenditure across states. However, my results also suggest that "Downsian" platform convergence may actually make more representation in the legislature conducive to social policy implementation. These findings suggest that representative features within government actually have mixed effects on the emergence of social policies and that better measures for these independent variables as well as a more accurate measure for the welfare state are imperative to future welfare state studies.
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