In the last decade, the literature surrounding the political economy of welfare states in advanced industrial democracies has relied extensively on the welfare state typology developed by Gøsta Esping-Andersen in his seminal book, The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism. Since that time there has been much debate about whether and to what degree the features of welfare policies highlighted in this work have changed in the last twenty-five years. While scholars have used these data as a framework, the substance of the framework itself—the underlying indicators of benefit generosity and stratification—has largely escaped criticism due to the absence of data that permit any. Yet such knowledge is essential to understand fully the welfare states of Europe and other industrial countries in the twenty-first century. The authors have recently updated Esping-Andersen's decommodification index. This article examines the "social stratification" index, reanalyzing and updating through the 1990s the indicators used by Esping-Andersen. As with earlier reexaminations of the index of decommodification, this reanalysis produces considerably less empirical support for coherent welfare "regimes." Moreover, evidence of coherent regimes has become even less clear-cut over the last quarter century.


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pp. 642-664
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