The Political Economy of Social Insurance: Towards a Fiscal-Centred Framework

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article draws attention to social insurance (SI) as a revenue raising institution, and explores the potential merits of drawing on new fiscal sociology for studying the development of SI systems. This is done by revisiting previous research conducted in Germany, the USA, Finland and Israel and by offering a new reading of their findings. The reviewed cases support two interlocking claims drawn from new fiscal sociology to the study of SI. The first is that state actors may perceive SI as an extraction instrument and employ it to advance fiscal and/or economic interests other than covering the costs of SI schemes. The second is that the design and management of contribution policies for such purposes may have substantial ramifications for the development of SI schemes. In addition, while current understandings tend to associate fiscal concerns with welfare state retrenchment, this article shows that they can also play a major role in driving welfare state expansion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)114-132
Number of pages19
JournalSocial Policy and Administration
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd


  • Political economy
  • Public finance
  • Social security
  • Taxation
  • Welfare state

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration


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