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Journal Article

Social Democrats and the New Partisan Politics of Public Investment in Education


Busemeyer,  Marius R.
Institutioneller Wandel im gegenwärtigen Kapitalismus, MPI for the Study of Societies, Max Planck Society;

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Busemeyer, M. R. (2009). Social Democrats and the New Partisan Politics of Public Investment in Education. Journal of European Public Policy, 16(1), 107-126. doi:10.1080/13501760802453171.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0012-43B9-6
This paper studies the impact on public education spending of social democratic participation in government. By means of a pooled time-series analysis of spending in OECD democracies, it is shown that social democrats have increased public spending primarily on higher education. This finding is at odds with simple class-based models of partisan preferences (Boix) that predict a preference for non-tertiary education. As an alternative, the notion of a 'new politics of public investment in education' (Iversen) is presented. From this perspective, political parties are not merely transmission belts for the economic interests of social classes, but use policies and spending strategically to attract and consolidate voter groups. By increasing public investment in tertiary education, social democrats cater to their core electoral constituencies (for example, by expanding enrolment) and, at the same time, new middle-class constituencies to escape electoral dilemmas and reforge the cross-class alliance with the middle class.