Home|Euro-Austerity After COVID-19: Will Europe’s Welfare States Survive?
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Abstract: Governments all around Europe responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with massive budgetary expansions. A third wave of Euro-austerity is imminent – just like in the previous episodes during the 1990s and after the Great Recession of 2008. Many are already concerned the pandemic will provide a trump card for conservative governments wishing to cutback welfare programs. Does COVID-19 represent the final nail in the coffin of Europe’s welfare states? Or is it yet another blow welfare states have grown to survive? I offer comparative historical insights for these hot-button policy questions based on my recent book Euro-Austerity and Welfare States. In the talk, I trace developments in social expenditures and social rights in the first episode of Euro-austerity in the run-up to Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) during the 1990s. I then show how governments reformed welfare states in Belgium, Greece, and Italy – countries where austerity’s impact was expected to be greatest. I close by discussing key takeaways from the politics of welfare state reform during the earlier episodes of Euro-austerity for the period after COVID-19.

H. Tolga Bolukbasi received his Ph.D. from McGill University, Montreal, Canada in 2007. He joined the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at Bilkent in 2009. Cutting across comparative public policy and political economy, Dr. Bolukbasi’s recent research explores questions lying at the heart of distributive politics: How can European welfare states remain resilient despite intense austerity pressures? How do governments in and around Europe bend seemingly hard EU rules, and with what effect? How can we better capture the remarkable expansion of welfare states in the global south? His recent research is funded by the H2020 COST Program, Stiftung Mercator, and The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK). Dr. Bolukbasi is the author of Euro-Austerity and Welfare States (University of Toronto Press, 2021) and the co-editor of Europeanization of Public Policy in Southern Europe (Routledge, 2014). He recently held visiting appointments at the Center for European Studies at Harvard University and Stockholm Institute for Social Research (SOFI) at Stockholm University.

The lecture will be in English.

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