Comparative Political Economy

The team analyses the political economy of the welfare state, in OECD states in particular. Research includes the analysis of welfare state institutions under the condition of changing political systems and economic problems since the beginning of the industrialization. A special focus lies on the effect which the political system has on the economic performance profile of modern economies. On the other hand it deals with the retroactive effect of the welfare state towards the party competition and the party system. By means of quantitative methods, historical and current interaction between the spheres of economic production, political competition and social protection will be researched.

Current research projects comprise effects of welfare state transformations towards party systems and party competition, the long-term nationalization of economic interest groups from the 19th to  the 20th century, the development of the German political economy of the Eurozone, the consequences of the first wave of globalization 1870-1914 for the complementary welfare state development in Western Europe and North America and the effect of long-term party political coalition patterns for the development of the welfare state.

In historical studies and analyses of current developments the group's research addresses a series of topics:

  • the effects of industrialization and "tertiarization" on the social policies of developed nation states;

  • the intermediating political mechanisms through which new social interests are translated into welfare state politics;

  • the interplay between the social expenditure state and the tax state;

  • the effects of welfare state transformations on party competition and electoral behaviour and on the traditional capital vs. labour and state vs. church cleavages;

  • the consequences of all these changes on the formation of political majorities.

Political representation and empirical democratic theory
Our work focusses on the role of political institutions in aggregating political preferences into democratic decision making and its implication for social policy making. We look at all instances of the democratic chain of delegation to determine the effects of institutional design on the quality of representation and policy implications such as redistribution and welfare state design. Among others, we investigate voting behavior, coalition building and political careers to address these questions.

Political economy of Germany in the Imperial era
In one of our projects, we address the formative period of the modern welfare and intervention state and the political reasons for the development of distinct political economies or 'varieties of capitalism' obtaining today. The project looks at the interplay of electoral and legislative coordination Imperial Reichstag.

Data for political research
Our studies require systematic data collection on the political-partisan composition of parliaments and governments. With ParlGov (Parliament and Government Composition Database) we provide the scientific community with a new data infrastructure. In addition we collect data on the socio-economic determinants of electoral behaviour, to understand the long-term transformations of social interests and in political participation.