Close window
 MPIfG Books



Marius R. Busemeyer
Skills and Inequality
Partisan Politics and the Political Economy of Education Reforms in Western Welfare States

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015
312 pages
ISBN 978-1-1070-6293-1 | $ 99.00 (hardback)
ISBN 978-1-31605-779-7 | $ 79.00 (epub)
Order book directly from Cambridge University Press.
Skills and Inequality was awarded the 2015 Stein Rokkan Prize for Comparative Social Science Research.



Abstract | Contents | Author | Reviews




Skills and Inequality studies the political economy of education and training reforms from the perspective of comparative welfare state research. Highlighting the striking similarities between established worlds of welfare capitalism and educational regimes, Marius R. Busemeyer argues that both have similar political origins in the postwar period. He identiļ¬es partisan politics and different varieties of capitalism as crucial factors shaping choices about the institutional design of post-secondary education. The political and institutional survival of vocational education and training as an alternative to academic higher education is then found to play an important role in the later development of skill regimes. Busemeyer also studies the effects of educational institutions on social inequality and patterns of public opinion on the welfare state and education. Adopting a multi-method approach, this book combines historical case studies of Sweden, Germany, and the United Kingdom with quantitative analyses of macro-level aggregate data and micro-level survey data.



Part I The political and institutional determinants of education policy
1 Theoretical framework: partisan politics in context
2 The politics of education and training reform: case studies
3 Worlds of skill formation: cross-national quantitative analysis

Part II The impact of educational institutions on outcomes and popular attitudes
4 Educational institutions and socioeconomic inequality
5 The impact of educational institutions on popular attitudes and preferences
6 Conclusion
Appendix: Data sources for quantitative analyses (all chapters)



Marius R. Busemeyer is Professor of Political Science in the Department of Politics and Public Administration at the University of Konstanz, Germany. From 2006 until 2010 he was a research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, Cologne, Germany. His research focuses on comparative political economy and welfare state research, education and social policy, public spending, theories of institutional change, and, more recently, public opinion on the welfare state. He has published a large number of journal articles and edited The Political Economy of Collective Skill Formation (with Christine Trampusch, 2011) and a special issue of the Socio-Economic Review on The Political Economy of Skills and Inequality (with Torben Iversen).



"In this path-breaking book, Busemeyer argues that educational policy should be seen as an integral part of the welfare state, with major consequences for our understanding of inequality. Using an impressive combination of macro-historical and micro-statistical evidence, Busemeyer shows how partisan governments led countries down distinct institutional paths, and how these paths now shape distributive outcomes. This is a book about education, but it is also a book about the perhaps most pressing issue of our time: rising inequality."
Torben Iversen, Harvard University
"Skills and Inequality reveals how seemingly technical choices in education policy have crucial reverberations for the design of welfare states, managed capitalism, class conflict, public regard for government and inequality. In an echo of Gosta Esping-Andersen's game-changing formulation of three worlds of welfare capitalism, Marius Busemeyer vividly illuminates the profound impacts of three worlds of education institutions: general education, school-based vocational training, and dual apprenticeship systems. This original and important book opens our minds to a central but understudied aspect of the welfare state and, just as Esping-Andersen did a generation before, is destined to alter the field of comparative political economy."
Cathie Jo Martin, former Chair of the Council for European Studies
"This book is invaluable as it aims at reconciling comparative welfare state with scholarly work on education and training systems. The combination of masterly theoretical reflection, rigorous statistical analysis and case study research is social science at its best and a must-have for every bookshelf."
Herbert Obinger, The Center for Social Policy, University of Bremen
"This is a remarkable book on a very important topic. Busemeyer's Skills and Inequality elegantly integrates analyses of welfare capitalism and educational systems into an argument that helps us better understand the politics of inequality. Combining qualitative and quantitative methods, this book represents a significant contribution to the literature on the comparative political economy of industrialised democracies. Busemeyer's careful research is a must-read for those who care about the determinants of inequality."
David Rueda, Oxford University

Close window