Policy, power and pandemic: Varieties of job and income protection responses to Covid-19 in Western Europe

Daniel Clegg, Niccolo Durazzi*, Elke Heins, Ewan Robertson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

What explains variation in governments’ policy choices to protect jobs and incomes at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in Western Europe? Departing from existing literature that emphasises path-dependency, this article proposes a dynamic model of policy-making in a major emergency. Building on the idea that governments face a trade-off between targeting and reversibility, the article develops a framework that accounts for both continuity and change in governments’ policies to protect jobs and incomes during the pandemic. Introducing a four-fold typology of ideal-typical policy responses (strong reinforcement, weak reinforcement, over-provision and under-provision), it is argued that the interaction between institutional legacies and political power of the beneficiaries of a given policy determines the response that governments opt for. Case studies of three policy areas (short-time work; unemployment insurance and social assistance) across the five largest Western European countries (Germany, France, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom) support the proposed theoretical framework.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of European Public Policy
Early online date3 Aug 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Aug 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Covid-19
  • income protection
  • job protection
  • comparative public policy
  • comparative political economy
  • Western Europe


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