Constructing the need for retrenchment: disability benefits in the United States and Great Britain

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Zachary Morris University of California Berkeley, USA

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Why are some welfare state programmes more susceptible to retrenchment than others? This article examines why the major disability benefit programme in the United States has proved resistant to austerity measures while the comparable disability benefit programme in Great Britain has been repeatedly scaled back. Using a most similar systems research design, it is argued that structural differences mattered a great deal, as did the portrayal of beneficiaries in Britain as undeserving, which proved critical for constructing the need for retrenchment. The article thus identifies the interaction between institutional and ideational factors as a driving force behind programmatic retrenchments.

Zachary Morris University of California Berkeley, USA

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