Transatlantic Policymaking in an Age of Austerity

Diversity and Drift

Martin A. Levin and Martin Shapiro, Editors

"This book is a treat! Its distinguished authors have performed a major service by placing American policy processes in trans-national perspective."
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Transatlantic Policymaking in an Age of Austerity integrates the study of politics and public policy across a broad spectrum of regulatory and social welfare policies in the United States and several nations of Western Europe. The editors and a sterling list of contributors look at policymaking in the 1990s through the present—providing a comparative politics framework—stressing both parallel development and the differences between and among the nations. Similar prevailing ideas and political factors can be identified and transatlantic comparisons made—providing for a clearer understanding of the policymaking process.

Faith in regulated markets and the burden of rising welfare costs are concerns found on both sides of the Atlantic. Western democracies also share political climates colored by economic austerity; low trust in government, pressures from interest groups, and a sharply divided electorate. Because of differing political processes and differing policy starting points, a variety of disparate policy decisions have resulted.

Real world policymaking in the areas of welfare, health, labor, immigration reform, disability rights, consumer and environmental regulation, administrative reforms, and corporate governance are compared. Ultimately, the last decade is best characterized as one of "drift," sluggish changes with little real innovation and much default to the private sector. In general, policymakers on both sides of the ocean, constrained by economic necessity, have been unable to produce policy outcomes that satisfy the key segments of the electorate.

The contributors examine the United States, Great Britain, France, and Germany, as well as a number of other European countries, and study the European Union itself as a policymaking institution. Transatlantic Policymaking in an Age of Austerity distills the prominent issues, politics, and roles played by governmental institutions into a new understanding of the dynamics of policymaking in and among transatlantic nations.

Table of Contents

Drift and Diversity in an Age of Austerity
Martin A. Levin

Reform Without Change, Change Without Reform: The Politics of U.S. Health Policy Reform in Cross-National Perspective
Jacob Hacker

Public Pension Regimes in an Age of Austerity
R. Kent Weaver

Activation Through Thick and Thin: Progressive Strategies for Increasing Labor Force Participation
Jonah Levy

The Dynamics of Immigration Reform in Comparative Perspectives: Sunshine and Shadow Politics in the U.S. and Europe
Virginie Guiraudon

The European Union and the Diffusion of Disability Rights
Thomas Burke

The Hare and the Tortoise Revisited: The New Politics of Consumer and Environmental Regulation in Europe
David Vogel

The Politics of Environmental Policy in the United States and the European Union
Daniel Kelemen

Austerity Politics, the New Public Management, and the Politics of Administrative Reform
Adam Sheingate

The State of the Corporation: State, Power, Politics, Policymaking and Corporate Governance in the United States, Germany, and France
John Cioffi

Politics and Policy: A Transatlantic Perspective
Martin Shapiro


"One of the many virtues of the essays in this fine volume is that they are truly comparative: they examine the different ways the U.S., Germany, France, Britain, and the EU have responded to similar problems. Another is that they help us to understand how and why different institutional structures create different policy outcomes."—R. Shep Melnick, Thomas P. O'Neill Jr. Professor, Political Science Department, Boston College

"Levin and Shapiro bring together some of the leading scholars working on comparative public policy, both established veterans and rising stars. They survey trends in the United States and Western Europe on topics ranging from health policy to corporate law, all the while recognizing the remarkable diversity across countries and issue areas."—Steven Vogel, associate professor of political science, University of California, Berkeley

"The Atlantic Ocean may be wide, but politically-speaking England, Germany, and even France are just a stone's throw away. This excellent volume brings a welcome comparative perspective to the study of public policymaking. It shows that the governments of North America and Western Europe are facing roughly similar demographic, economic, and political tides, but that no two nations are responding to them in exactly the same way. With contributions from some of the best names in the field, Transatlantic Policymaking in an Age of Austerity provides many fresh insights into the powerful, shaping influence of political institutions, electoral incentives, and the 'policy feedback' from inherited policy regimes."—Eric Patashnik, associate professor of politics, University of Virginia

"This book is a treat! Its distinguished authors have performed a major service by placing American policy processes in trans-national perspective."—David R. Mayhew, Sterling Professor of Political Science, Yale University

"The comparative focus of Transatlantic Policymaking provides a much richer perspective than analyzing either the U.S. or Europe policy debates would do. The book is indispensable for any serious student of health, pension, immigration, disability, corporate governance, public administration, environmental regulation, and other policies in today's political and fiscal climate."—Peter H. Schuck, Simeon E. Baldwin Professor of Law, Yale University and author of Diversity in America: Keeping Government at a Safe Distance

"A first rate collection of essays by many of the foremost scholars in the field.... Essential reading for all students of comparative public policy. The authors masterfully explore the tension between shared problems and policy ideas, which tend to induce common policy responses across systems, and the structural differences that have grown out of each country's earlier policy choices."—Timothy J. Conlan, professor of government & politics, George Mason University


Thomas F. Burke John Cioffi Virgine Guiraudon Jacob Hacker Daniel Kelemen Martin A. Levin Jonah Levy Martin Shapiro Adam Sheingate David Vogel R. Kent Weaver

Supplemental Materials


About the Author

Martin A. Levin is a professor of political science and founding director of the Gordon Public Policy Center at Brandeis University, author of After the Cure: Managing AIDS and other Public Health Crises, and coeditor of The New Politics of Policymaking.

Martin Shapiro is James W. and Isabel Coffroth Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. Both are coeditors of Seeking the Center: Politics and Policymaking at the New Century.

344 pp., 6 x 9

Nov 2004

344 pp., 6 x 9

ISBN: 978-1-58901-031-4
Nov 2004

344 pp.

ISBN: 978-1-58901-476-3
Nov 2004

American Governance and Public Policy series
Gerard W. Boychuk, Karen Mossberger, and Mark C. Rom, Series Editors

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