Ana Marta Guillen Rodriguez (University of Oviedo, Spain)
"Walking in others’ shoes? Welfare reform in Germany and Southern Europe"
The study analyses comparatively the trajectories of social policy reform in the four Southern European countries and Germany since the turn of the millennium. For those countries in the periphery of the Eurozone, the crisis has brought about austerity in public expenditure as well as hasty and harsh institutional reshaping of the labour market and welfare provisions. Conversely, in Germany, the crisis has provided a test for the reforms already implemented in the 1990s and early 2000s. Have the German and Southern European welfare states drifted apart? To answer this question, after the introduction, the second section reviews major reforms in Germany. The third section examines the trajectory of reform in Southern European countries by ascertaining similarities and differences among them. Section four carries out a comparative assessment as to timing and content of reforms, incidence of contextual pressures, role played by governments and other national policy actors, and orientation, functionality and responsibility for policy action. The concluding section highlights the main research results.