Dissertation Abstracts

New Social Risks, Social Policies, and Dualization in the Contemporary Welfare State

Author: Rovny, Allison E, allison.rovny@gmail.com
Department: Political Science
University: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA
Supervisor: John D. Stephens
Year of completion: 2012
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: Social Policy , Welfare States , New Social Risks , Poverty
Areas of Research: Poverty, Social Welfare and Social Policy , Political Sociology , Stratification


In recent years, much attention has been given in the welfare state literature to the presence of new social risks in postindustrial political economies and the growing divide between those deemed to be insiders and outsiders. In fact, the term “new social risks” arguably signifies one of the defining areas of contemporary research on welfare state adaptations in advanced affluent democracies. In this dissertation, I examine how the various worlds of welfare provision—specifically, social policy tools—affect the well-being of new social risk groups, and whether we are indeed witnessing an emergence of labor market and welfare state outsiders. I investigate the determinants of outsiderness expressed as single parent income, child poverty rate, and youth unemployment. I analyze the effects of social policies on the likelihood of being poor among low-skilled populations. I find that social policies such as active and passive labor market policies, family policies, and government daycare spending are effective at combating new social risks. Employment protection legislation may impede low-skilled young people from escaping poverty. Union density and representation of women in national parliaments also diminish the severity of old and new social risks, respectively. Lastly, this dissertation considers the case of Germany and probes the extent to which a divide between labor market insiders and outsiders has cemented there over time, and whether the welfare state (via taxes and transfers) exacerbates or ameliorates this dualism.

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