Øyvind Skorge

Øyvind (Ovi) Skorge, Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard University

Volte-Face on the Welfare State: Social Partners, Knowledge Economies, and the Expansion of Work-Family Policies

Working paper

With Magnus B. Rasmussen

To what extent employers and unions support social policies is contested. We study the case of work-family policies (WFPs), such as parental leave, which have surged to become a central part of the welfare state. In this expansion, the joint role of employers and unions has hitherto been disregarded in the comparative politics literature. We argue that the shift from Fordist to knowledge economies is the impetus for the social partners' support for WFP. If women make up an increasing share of high-skilled employees, employers start favoring WFPs to increase their labor supply. Similarly, unions favor WFPs if women constitute a significant part of their membership base. Yet the extent to which changes in preferences translate into policy depends on the presence of corporatist institutions. We support these claims with statistical analyses of WFPs in eighteen advanced democracies (1960-2009), a detailed case study of Norway, and three shadow case studies.