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77 Working Paper

Beyond retrenchment

2001 Bruno Palier


Current research on welfare state changes should go beyond the notion of retrenchment to be able to embrace the different kinds of developments that have occurred. Recent European welfare state changes should be analysed in differentiating between different periods of time and different types of changes introduced by governments. Certain reforms may prove to enforce continuity while others may prove to introduce a new logic into the welfare system. And, contrary to the overall notion of retrenchment, every reform does not always imply less welfare state. A specific framework of analysis inspired by general public policy analysis, and emphasising the role of welfare institutions, aimed at differentiating three orders of changes, is proposed.