P. de Beer
- Three worlds of educational welfare states? A comparative study of higher education systems across welfare states
- Journal of European Social Policy
- Volume | Issue number
- 22 | 2
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Law (FdR)
- Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies (AIAS)
Although education is generally considered to be an important part of the welfare state, it is largely absent in the comparative welfare state literature. This article tries to fill this void by applying the central concepts of welfare state analysis of decommodification and stratification, as proposed by Esping-Andersen, to the field of higher education. The article tests whether there are systematic differences in higher education policies across 19 developed western countries that are usually categorized in a social democratic, a liberal or a conservative welfare regime. Based on a secondary analysis of the available literature and cross-country statistics, we construct indices for decommodification and for stratification in higher education. The countries studied cluster in three groups that correspond roughly with the classical categorization. The countries in these clusters do not, however, meet all expectations regarding the level of decommodification and stratification. We conclude that countries belonging to the social democratic regime follow the principles of the prototypical social-democratic welfare regime well with respect to higher education. However, the higher education systems in liberal and conservative countries only share some of the characteristics of a prototypical conservative or liberal welfare state. We conclude that including higher education in comparative welfare states analysis might result in a less clear-cut categorization of welfare regimes than when the analysis is restricted to social protection and labour market policies.
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