Worker Welfare Systems in Marxist-Leninist States: a Comparative Perspective
How significant are political regime characteristics for the determination of social welfare policies in the modern world? There has been considerable uncertainty in Western literature on social welfare with respect to the significance of ‘politics’ for welfare policy. In some cases, that significance has been discounted; in some, it has been treated rather ambiguously; and in some, it has been given considerable weight. Differences in findings appear to have been greatly influenced by the different conceptualizations of the research problem, i.e. what precisely was to be examined and how. On occasion, researchers have succumbed to the temptation to draw rather sweeping conclusions from patently limited empirical analyses. Thus, for example, Harold L. Wilensky in his widely cited study, The Welfare State and Equality: Structural and Ideological Roots of Public Expenditures (1975), concluded that ‘Over the long pull, economic level is the root cause of welfare-state development…’ (p. 47). Even Wilensky, however, took somewhat divergent positions on the impact of ‘ideology’ (pp. 42–3) and of political ‘organization’ (pp. 65–6) on welfare expenditures. He viewed the former as nil and the latter as, in fact, ‘significant.’
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