State authority and national welfare programs in the world system context

George Thomas, Pat Lauderdale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Recent research on national welfare programs focuses upon the organizational capacity of nation-states, but it does not directly address the issue of why state bureaucracies institute such programs. We develop an institutionalist theory that views the rationalization of authority and concomitant national welfare programs as products of a world culture. By examining the interplay between national characteristics and world-system context, we are able to interpret worldwide adoption of welfare programs as well as the difference between formal programs and their implementation. We provide preliminary tests of hypotheses predicting worldwide patterns of welfare expenditures. We find that a state's incorporation in intergovernmental organizations and its level of investment dependence positively affect social security expenditures in 1965 and 1970. We conclude by briefly discussing implications of our research for further work on the relationship between state structures and national programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)383-399
Number of pages17
JournalSociological Forum
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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