This chapter ends the volume's journey exploring the role of growth strategies and associated welfare reforms in the evolution of advanced capitalist economies. Its key argument is that welfare reforms are institutionally and politically linked to countries’ growth strategies, i.e. their adaptations to the new era of growth since the 1980s. Linkages between welfare systems and growth regimes (and economic activity more generally) are rarely made in the social policy literature. Usually, the
main explanation for welfare state reforms refers to sociodemographic changes such as aging, entry of women into the labor market, and emergence of new social risks (Esping-Andersen 1999; Bonoli 2005; Hemerijck 2013). Recent research on the politics of the welfare state highlights the relevance of changes in citizen preferences for explaining welfare state reforms (e.g. Gingrich and Häusermann 2015). Here again, there is no link between welfare state reforms and national economic strategies. When welfare state reforms are linked to economic issues and policies, they are often portrayed as being imposed by generic global factors such as globalization, neoliberalism, and austerity, but not as mitigated by countries’ institutional and political idiosyncrasies.
Yet, in practice, when welfare systems have changed (Hemerijck 2013; Palier and Hay 2017; Taylor-Gooby et al. 2017), their transformations have not been the same across all countries; they have not followed the same timing or the same logic, although the countries were exposed to the same exogenous, sociodemographic or economic forces of change.