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Über dieses Buch

This book situates ethnic heterogeneity in the larger discussion of the welfare state and its redistributive outcomes, poverty and inequality. By using comprehensive, longitudinal data covering 1980 to 2010 from 17 high income countries, this analysis helps achieve a major milestone in comparative welfare state research both conceptually and methodologically. Conceptually, it elevates the relevance of growing ethnic heterogeneity in thinking about how politics and economics of the welfare state operate, collectively impacting the magnitudes of poverty and inequality. Methodologically, the analysis conducted in this book provides broader empirical tests for the many propositions and discourses found in the literature based largely on anecdotal evidence, case studies, and unjustifiably limited quantitative data. The innovative oeprationalization of the multidimensional character of both welfare state policies and ethnic heterogeneity help broaden the analytical frameworks of comparative welfare state research.

The outcome is a major advance in the way we understand the causes and redistributive consequences of the welfare state, in which ethno-racial, religious, and especially immigration heterogeneity can play a crucial role. A thorough and insightful analysis presented in this book helps students, researchers, and policymakers better understand the ethnic heterogeneity connections of the welfare state and redistribution, together with a comparative perspective of the changing faces of ethnic heterogeneity, welfare state policies, and poverty and inequality in high income countries.



Chapter 1. Introduction

It may be more than just a coincidence that as poverty and economic inequality are growing and immigration is causing enormous rise in ethnic heterogeneity in most high income countries, questions of long-term financial viability of the welfare states have prompted to the politics of austerity. No doubt, the politics of austerity go much deeper, dividing many countries and the United States and Europe in particular over a more immediate concern of steering their struggling economies into a path of sustainable growth. But the need for austerity in the way their welfare state policies and programs are structured and financed has been a more persistent battle dividing those who see the value of welfare states in redistributing resources and leveling the playing field across individuals and those who see expansive welfare states threatening individual freedom and independence. It is also logical for countries with extensive social protection policies to vigorously debate whether major retrenchments would ensure greater financial viability of their welfare states, something that has shaped the election as well as everyday politics for more than 2 decades. To a surprise, this issue of austerity and retrenchment has also dominated the politics even in countries like the United States where welfare state policies have never reached to the level of guaranteeing economic security to the poor and vulnerable.
Udaya R. Waglé

Chapter 2. Ethnic Heterogeneity

There are important differences in the degree of ethnic heterogeneity across high-income countries. Most of the countries in the Western Europe, for example, have remained relatively homogeneous throughout their history, whereas countries with longer histories of immigration including Australia, Canada, Switzerland, and the United States have had considerable degrees of ethic heterogeneity. But this picture is also changing due to growing immigration, especially from countries and regions outside of Europe and North America. While immigration from Europe to many of the immigrant-receiving countries remained high historically, the new face of immigration is different as it has led to increasing diversity in the physical make up of the population as well as the way people hold and reflect upon their history, cultural beliefs and practices, and experiences. This growing heterogeneity landscape is impacting the way societies are organized and intergroup relations play out, with important implications for sociopolitical attitudes and preferences.
Udaya R. Waglé

Chapter 3. The Welfare State

The welfare state is an instrument used by governments seeking to ensure their population against possible risks and vulnerabilities. While all high-income countries provide some form of welfare state protections, the range of welfare state experience and practices varies across them enormously. At one end of the spectrum is the American welfare state with limited degree of support to the poor and other vulnerable groups, especially in the form of means-tested benefits. At the other end are the Nordic and especially Swedish welfare states that provide comprehensive forms of insurance and assistance helping to keep poverty and inequality low. In between are other countries that have utilized welfare state policies to varying degrees, depending on their need and political supports. No doubt, different components of the welfare state have been introduced to address specific social needs and vulnerabilities that vary across countries as well as over time. But it is important to understand how the provisions and practices of welfare state policies vary across countries and over time as a necessary first step to analyze why they vary at all.
Udaya R. Waglé

Chapter 4. Poverty and Inequality

Poverty and economic inequality are two of the most highly contested policy issues in both developing and advanced countries. While poverty is frequently associated with the lack of economic progress with the view that greater progress brought about by increasing economic growth and expanding economic opportunities can lower the experience of poverty, the prevalence of poverty amidst the plenty in high-income countries has also been a difficult challenge for policymakers. The issue first is whether or not individuals can derive earnings from the labor market that are sufficient to maintain a basic living standard, which if deficient for reasons beyond the control of individuals can be addressed by some state measures. But the idea of basic living standard itself can be politically charged as what is needed to maintain this standard largely determines the poverty measurement outcomes showing the face of poverty in any society. It is in this relative sense that the issues of poverty and inequality become highly contested as they touch on who has the responsibility to ensure economic security and whose responsibility it is to determine to what extent poverty and inequality are tolerated.
Udaya R. Waglé

Chapter 5. Ethnic Heterogeneity and the Welfare State

Countries cumulate very different experiences on welfare state development and change and the process dominant in one context may not be consistent over time. How welfare states develop and change has partly to do with changes in the need and demand for social protections as well as those in political attitudes and preferences that dictate policy actions and decisions. An integral component of how welfare states change can also be ethnic heterogeneity as it can affect both the economic contexts of needs and demands and the political contexts of attitudes and preferences. Yet, while the existing theories of the welfare state underscore these political and economic contexts of social protection, they fail to adequately link welfare state developments and changes with the changes in ethnic heterogeneity. Given the major changes in welfare state policy provisions and practices, coupled by a landscape of growing ethnic heterogeneity in high-income countries, it is important to examine if this form of social heterogeneity can be a significant factor in thinking about the needs and demands as well as the political attitudes and preferences, which help shape and reshape welfare state policies.
Udaya R. Waglé

Chapter 6. Ethnic Heterogeneity and Poverty and Inequality

Poverty and inequality refer to the economic order of society, in which an individual level welfare remains at the core. Because the private and especially labor market serves as the primary source of income for most individuals, these economic outcomes are linked with how individuals engage with the market and how they derive the incomes needed to operate, economically speaking. But the roles of welfare state policies are also important as they provide the supports needed to ensure minimally adequate living standard for everyone. The economically dependent population including the old, sick, unemployed, disabled, and otherwise vulnerable in particular may need help from the state as they cannot harness the opportunities available in the market to the fullest extent possible. The role of welfare state policies does not stop at ensuring the minimum living standard, however, since high disparities in income distribution help create uneven playing fields, preventing societies from achieving the goal of equality of opportunity. The concepts of poverty and inequality in this sense are similar as the degree of poverty is likely to be higher in a society with greater inequality than in another with lower inequality.
Udaya R. Waglé

Chapter 7. Conclusion

This book started out with a rather ambitious agenda: to connect the experiences of high income countries in ethnic heterogeneity with their experiences in poverty and inequality. It is no brainer that this connection involves the roles of welfare state policies since they serve as the conduit through which states attempt to redistribute resources and affect poverty and inequality, irrespective of the specific population that is at risk of poverty and low incomes. But the task to effectively link these two very distinct aspects of society was monumental, calling for mimicking the reality in which a range of economic, political, and socio-cultural structures, policies, and performance are involved. What makes it even more challenging is the focus on cross-national analysis that necessitates comparing contexts that may not be fully comparable, given their unique histories and political and socio-cultural values, attitudes, and preferences.
Udaya R. Waglé


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