Investigating Welfare State Change: The 'Dependent Variable Problem' in Comparative Analysis

Contemporary accounts of welfare state change have produced conflicting findings and incompatible theoretical explanations. To a large extent this is due to a 'dependent variable problem' within comparative research, whereby there is insufficient consideration of how to conceptualize, operationalize and measure change. With contributions from leading international scholars, this important book presents a comprehensive examination of conventional indicators (such as social spending), available alternatives (including social rights and conditionality), as well as principal concepts of how to capture change (for example convergence and de-familization). By providing an in-depth discussion of the most salient aspects of the 'dependent variable problem', the editors aim to enable a more cumulative build-up of empirical evidence and contribute to constructive theoretical debates about the causes of welfare state change. The volume also offers valuable suggestions as to how the problem might be tackled within empirical cross-national analyses of modern welfare states. The focus on the methodology of conceptualizing and measuring welfare state change in a comparative perspective gives this unique book widespread appeal amongst scholars and researchers of social policy and sociology, as well as students at both the advanced undergraduate and post-graduate level studying comparative social policy, research methods and welfare reform.