Public and Private Social Policy: Health and Pension Policies in a New Era


Focusing on health care and pensions, this volume provides some answers to our three questions about the nature, the politics, and the impacts on social inequality of the public-private dichotomy for social policy: .First, regarding the nature of this dichotomy, the volume challenges the utility of a clear-cut vision of the dichotomy as both straightforward and identical, no matter the country or policy area. Beyond the claim that public-private boundaries are often fuzzy, the volume shows that the public-private dichotomy takes different meanings depending on the national and institutional contexts. From this perspective, the public-private dichotomy may take a different meaning from one country to another, as well as from one policy area to another within the same country.

Second, regarding the politics of public and private benefits, this volume suggests that although existing public and private institutions may act as strong constraints to change, path-departing reforms can reshape well established public and private social programs. This means that taking into account the structuring role of existing political institutions and policy legacies should not hide the fact that political mobilization and other powerful forces can deeply reshape these legacies.

Finally, previous research provides some evidence that a strong reliance on private benefits can increase social inequalities. Because the state frequently plays a major role in regulating private benefits, however, public regulations can mitigate the potentially negative impact of a strong reliance on such private benefits.


Social inequality

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(Daniel Beland & Brian Gran eds., 2008)

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COinS Daniel Beland Faculty Bio