EU453E      Half Unit
The Political Economy of Welfare State Reform (modular)

This information is for the 2015/16 session.

Teacher responsible



This course is compulsory on the Executive MSc in Political Economy of Europe. This course is not available as an outside option.

Course content

The aim of the course is to apply concepts of economics and political economy to social policies in European welfare states. The seminars establish the theoretical context, summarise the findings of quantitative comparative case studies and discuss European experience in the context of broader international experience. They then build on these concepts and apply them to qualitative case studies of welfare state arrangements in member states, considering in particular the role of social policy legislation and coordination at the EU level. The course will provide students with the conceptual and empirical background to enable them to answer questions such as: What does economic theory and political economy tell us about the design of welfare states? How do social policies in European welfare states reconcile equity and efficiency? What drives or stalls reform dynamics in member states? What are the proper boundaries of EU social policy? Is the EU gradually developing into a social union, through international mobility and the portability of social entitlements?


The Module will run between 12-16 September 2016. 

Formative coursework

One formative essay - 2,000 words

Indicative reading

Barr, N. (2012) The Economics of the Welfare State, 5th ed., Oxford: Oxford UP; Leibfried, S (2010) European Social Policy: Left to Judges and the Market? In H Wallace, M Pollack and A.Young, Policy-Making in the European Union, ch 10 (or earlier edition); Pierson, P. (ed) (2001) The New Politics of the Welfare State, Oxford: Oxford University Press; Scharpf, F.W. and Schmidt, V.A. (eds.) (2000) Welfare and Work in the Open Economy, 2 vols, Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Essay (50%, 2000 words).
Take home exam (50%) in the MT.

Key facts

Department: European Institute

Total students 2014/15: Unavailable

Average class size 2014/15: Unavailable

Controlled access 2014/15: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Communication