The purpose of this course is to provide an introduction to the cross‑national study of public policies in the developed democracies of North America, Europe, and Australasia. Substantively, the course will focus on two questions (and arguably ones fundamentally important to the study of politics, economics, and society). First, we will examine the question of why national governments of the affluent, market-oriented democracies so often respond quite differently to what are in essence similar policy problems (e.g., caring for the elderly, providing health care, fighting unemployment and promoting economic growth, protecting consumers and the environment). Second, we will seek to understand why some countries are apparently much more successful than others in tackling certain policy problems. In considering these fundamental questions, we will focus to an extent on the political roots of differences in policies and performance: how and why does the power of labor, business, and other organized interests shape the development of public policies; how and why do political institutions influence the character of national policy; how and why do ideas, ideology, and cultural factors influence the nature of government intervention in society and economy. Second, we will devote some time to analyzing how fundamental changes in domestic social and economic structure (e.g., the aging crisis, the emergence of the postindustrial economy) and globalization of the economy influence contemporary patterns of public policy.

Because of the vast range of topics that could be covered in a course such as this, two limitations on the subject matter will be imposed. First, we will focus primarily on the rich democracies (North America, Western Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand). We will consider the less developed or newly emergent capitalist democracies (e.g., Poland , Hungary , the Czech Republic ) in passing. Second, we will focus largely on the domestic policies -- social, economic, and environmental -- of the industrialized democracies because of the large number of extant courses that focus on foreign, defense, and national security‑related issues. However, we will brush against the defense and national security areas when considering such topics as "guns‑versus‑butter" tradeoffs in national policy making. Most important, we will systematically consider (as noted above) the impacts of the international economy — the process of regionalization (e.g., through the European Union, NAFTA) and globalization of markets — on domestic politics and social and economic policies.

As to specifics, we will concentrate on the following topics:

Part I: Introduction: Markets or Governments, or Why Do We Have Governments in the First Place?

Part II: The Social Security and Health of Nations: Development and Crisis of the Social Welfare State

Part III: Retrenching the Welfare State: Can Social Programs be Cut?

Part IV: Human Capital: An Overview of Education Policy in Advanced Democracies.

Part V: The Politics of the Economy: Growth and Jobs.

Part VI: Globalization and Domestic Policies: Diminished Democracy?


A large portion of the course’s reading assignments will come from four books. These are available for purchase at the university bookstore. The remainder of the readings will come largely in the form of class handout material (most from the book-in-progress, Duane Swank, Public Policy in Developed Democracies: Achieving Equity and Efficiency in a Global Economy)

Jessica Adolino and Charles Blake. Comparing Public Policies: Issues and Choices in Six Industrialized Countries. CQ Press, 2001.

Laurene Graig. Health of Nations: An International Perspective on US Health Care Reform. (3rd Edition). CQ Press, 1999.

Paul Pierson, Dismantling the Welfare State: Reagan, Thatcher, and the Politics of Retrenchment. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

David Vogel. Trading Up: Consumer and Environmental Regulation in a Global Economy. Harvard University Press, 1995.


Grades will be based on three exams — two hourly exams and a final — and a research paper. Each of the exams will consist of a series of essay questions covering required readings and class materials; you will be asked to select three questions for the hourly exams and four


POSC141: Public Policy in Industrialized Democracies Duane Swank

questions for the final from a larger list of questions. (The final exam will stress material since the second hourly exam.) The research paper will address one of two core questions: (1) why have nations adopted different policies in response to a specific, commonly experienced policy problem or (2) why have nations varied in their success in combating a specific, commonly experienced policy problem. A paper prospectus describing the policy problem; outlining the research focus, time frame, and countries, and including a preliminary bibliography, is due October 22. The final paper is due December 5. (I will provide more details on this assignment in a special handout.) Class attendance is required, subject of course to a limited number of absences for sickness, family commitments, and the like; students are expected to actively participate in class. The elements of the final grade are weighted as follows:

Hourly Exam I: 20 % Hourly Exam II: 20 %

Paper Prospectus: 10 % Final Paper 25 %

Final Exam: 25 %


Part I: Introduction: Markets of Governments?

August 25: Course Introduction

- syllabus distribution, course overview (no required reading)

August 27: No Class (reading day - instructor at Annual Meeting of the APSA)

- Class HO Reading: "The Rationales for Government Intervention"

- Chapter 1 in Adolino and Blake

September 1: Labor Day Holiday

September 3: Perspectives on Markets and Government

- begin Chapters 2 and 3 in Adolino and Blake

Recommended for future reading: Charles Wolf, Markets or Governments: Choosing Between Imperfect Alternatives. (Wolf’s book provides a good introduction to "theories of market failures" as rationales for the public sector intervention in the private market and society. It also offers a "theory of government failure" that embodies quite a bit of contemporary neoconservative thinking on why big government might be as bad as feeble markets in meeting society’s needs. For a critical perspective on these neoconservative ideas, and on Reaganism and Thatcherism specifically, see Peter Self, Government by the Market: The Politics of Public Choice (Westview Press, 1993). For a classic on markets versus governments in meeting societies needs, see Charles Lindblom, Politics verses Markets (Basic Books, 1977).


September 8: Government Responses to Public Policy Problems: The Policy Process and Theories of Policy Making.

- Finish Chapters 2 and 3 of Adolino and Blake

Part II: The Social Security and Health of Nations

September 10: How Did We Get Here? The Development and Crisis of the Social Welfare State

- Class HO Reading: "The Origins of Cross-National Variations in Social Security and Welfare"

- Ch. 9, "Social Policy," in Adolino and Blake

There are many excellent treatments of the development of social insurance and welfare programs. Perhaps most useful are: Esping-Andersen’s Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism (London: Polity Press, 1990); John Myles, Old Age and the Welfare State (University of Kansas Press, 1989); Peter Flora and Arnold Heidenheimer, The Development of Welfare States in Europe and America (New Brunswick: Transaction, 1981), Peter Baldwin, The Politics of Social Solidarity: Class Basis of the European Welfare State (New York: Cambridge U. Press, 1990), John Williamson and Fred Pampel Old-Age Security in Comparative Perspective (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), and Alex Hicks, Social Democracy and Welfare Capitalism (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1999).

September 15-29: More on Development and Crisis: A Case Study on the Health of Nations

- September 15: Introduction

- Ch. 1 in Graig

- Ch. 8 in Adolino and Blake

- September 17: The Development and Crisis of the US Health Care System

- Ch. 2 in Graig

- September 22: National Social Insurance in Continental Europe

- Ch. 3 in Craig (and Ch. 4 strongly recommended)

- September 24: The National Health System in Britain (with comparisons to Canada)

- Chs. 7 (UK) and 6 (Canada) in Graig

- September 29: The Future of Security and Health in the Rich Democracies

- Ch. 8 in Graig


POSC141: Public Policy in Industrialized Democracies Duane Swank

For an encompassing overview of how contemporary demographic changes, health care costs, and economic performance problems (e.g., unemployment) places pressures on the ability of governments to fund social protection in Europe and all the developed democracies, see among many other recent excellent treatments, Vic George and Peter Taylor-Gooby, European Welfare Policy (Policy Press). For more details on the demographic "crisis" of the welfare state, see OECD, Maintaining Prosperity in an Ageing Society (OECD, 1998); Peter G Peterson, Gray Dawn (NY: Times Books, 1999).

October 1: Who Gets What? Distributional Consequences of Social Policies

- Class HO reading: "Who Gets What: Material Inequalities and Redistribution

For more data, bibliography, and analysis of income inequality and poverty in the advanced market-oriented democracies are the OECD’s, Income Distribution in OECD Countries (Paris, OECD, 1995) and Michael Förster, "Trends and Driving Factors in Income Distribution and Poverty in the OECD Area." Labour Market and Social Policy - Occasional Paper #42 (Paris, OECD, 2000).

October 6: Hourly Exam I

Part III: Dismantling the Welfare State?

October 8-20: The Politics of Welfare State Retrenchment

- October 8: Chs. 1 and (begin 2) of Pierson, Dismantling the Welfare State

- October 13: Chs. (Finish) 2 and 3 of Pierson, Dismantling the Welfare State

- October 15: Chs. 4-5 of l Pierson, Dismantling the Welfare State

- October 20: Chs. 6-7 of Pierson, Dismantling the Welfare State

For additional analysis of the politics and economics of "dismantling the welfare state," see Gosta Esping-Andersen ed., Welfare States in Transition (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 1996), Evelyne Huber and John Stephens, The Development and Crisis of the Welfare State (Chicago University Press, 2001), and Paul Pierson, ed. The New Politics of the Welfare State (Oxford University Press, 2001).

Part IV: Human Capital: An Overview of Educational Policy in Advanced Democracies.

October 22/27: The Politics of Education Policy

- Ch. 10, "Education Policy," in Adolino and Blake

- Class HO Reading: "An Overview of Educational Policy Problems and Reforms"

October 22: Paper prospectus due

POSC141: Public Policy in Industrialized Democracies Duane Swank

Many of the debates and political conflicts in education policy revolve around the issues of comprehensive versus tripartite (or otherwise selective) school systems and market-based "choice" systems versus public school systems. Particularly useful surveys of these issues are, respectively, Achim Leschinsky and Karl Ulrich Mayer, eds., The Comprehensive School Experiment Revisted: Evidence from Western Europe (Frankurt am Main: Verlag Peter Lang, 1990) and OECD, School: A Matter of Choice (Paris: OECD, 1994) and Edward Fiske and Helen Ladd, When Schools Compete: A Cautionary Tale (Washington, DC: Brookings, 2000). For bibliography and analysis of education, human capital, and economic performance, see OECD, The Well-being of Nations (Paris: OECD, 2001).

Part V: The Politics of the Economy: Growth and Jobs

October 29: Contemporary Problems of Economic Performance and Economic Policies

- Class HO Reading: "Economic Performance Problems and Policies in the Advanced Market Economies"

- Ch. 7 in Adolino and Blake (Ch. 6 recommended)

Recommended: Good, non-technical introductions to the economic performance problems of the advanced market-economies since the mid-1970s can be found in Hui-Liang Tsai, Energy Shocks and the World Economy (New York: Prentice Hall, 1989), OECD, The Jobs Study, Volumes I-V (Paris: OECD, 1994-96), and the OECD’s periodical, Economic Outlook. For more on economic theory, policies, and politics of the economy, see Robert Franzese, Macroeconomic Policies in the Developed Democracies (NY: Cambridge University Press, 2002).

November 3: "Varieties of Capitalism:" How Different Economic Systems Cope .."

- Class HO Reading: "Managing Economic Performance in Competing Models.."

Good supplemental discussions of the structure and policies of liberal market economies, sector-coordinated market economies, and social corporatist systems can be found in (the somewhat advanced) Colin Crouch and Wolfgang Streek, The Political Economy of Contemporary Capitalism (Sage, 1997), Herbert Kitschelt, Gary Marks, Peter Lange, and John Stephens, Change and Continuity in Contemporary Capitalism (Cambridge University Press, 1999), and Peter Hall and David Soskice, Varieties of Capitalism (NY: Oxford University Press 2001).

November 5: Second Hourly Exam

Part VI: Globalization and Domestic Policies: Diminished Democracy?

November 10: Globalization and the Welfare State

- Class HO Reading: International Economic Integration and Domestic Policy Autonomy

- Duane Swank, "Social Democratic Welfare States in a Global Economy: Scandinavia in Comparative Perspective," In Rober Geyer, Christine Ingrebritsen, and Jonathon Moses, eds., Globalization, Europeanization, and the End of Scandinavian Social Democracy? (Macmillan/St. Martin’s, 1999). (LR)

November 12-December 3: Internationalization, Regional Integration, and Environmental Protection

- November 12: - Ch. 11, "Environmental Policy," in Adolino and Blake

- November 17 - Ch. 1 in Vogel, Trading Up (begin Chs. 2-3)

- November 19: - Chs. 2- 3 in Vogel, Trading Up

- November 24 - Chs. 4-5 in Vogel, Trading Up

- November 26 - first day of Thanksgiving Holiday break

- December 1: - Chs. 6-8 in Vogel, Trading Up

The literature on globalization and domestic policies is large. For conventional statements of the globalization thesis that democratic governments are losing their ability to pursue their preferred policies, see Richard McKenzie and Dwight Lee, Quicksilver Capital: How the Rapid Movement of Wealth Has Changed the World (Free Press, 1991), Ramesh Mishra, Globalization and the Welfare State (Edward Elgar 1999), William Grieder, One World, Ready or Not (Simon and Schuster, 1997). For accessible and critical reflections on the globalization thesis, see George Soros, On Globalization (.....) and Joseph Stiglitz, Globalization and Its Discontents (NY: W.W. Norton, 2002). Robert Boyer and Daniel Drache, States Against Markets: The Limits of Globalization (Routledge, 1996) and Paul Hirst and Grahame Thompson, Globalization in Question (Polity Press, 1996). On the process of Europeanization and domestic policy, see Paul Pierson and Stephan Leibfried, European Social Policy (Washington, DC: Brookings, 1996). For extensive treatments of many issues connected to the domestic impacts of globalization, see Robert Keohane and Helen Milner eds., Internationalization and Domestic Politics (New York; Cambridge University Press, 1996), Suzanne Berger and Ronald Dore, National Diversity and Global Capitalism (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1996), and Duane Swank, Global Capital, Political Institutions, and Policy Change in Developed Welfare States (NY: Cambridge University Press, 2002).

December 3: Summing Up

Research Papers Due (December 5)

Final Exam (Monday, December 8, 1-3 pm.)

Department of Political Science

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