Fiscal protest in thirteen welfare states

Isaac William Martin, Nadav Gabay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Why does the fiscal burden of the welfare state inspire more protest in some societies than others? Quantitative analysis of fiscal protest in 13 European countries from 1980 to 1995, combined with in-depth comparative-historical analysis of selected countries, shows that fiscal protest was most prevalent where there was a poor fit between tax policy and social spending commitments. Policy incoherence produced pressure for fiscal reforms, which in turn provoked protest. The findings are consistent with the theory that the choice of appropriate tax instruments may help to explain why welfare states persist. They also imply that scholars should not conflate tax protest with welfare backlash, nor assume that tax protest in welfare states is aligned with neoliberal interests.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbermws014
Pages (from-to)107-130
Number of pages24
JournalSocio-Economic Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Deficit
  • Fiscal burden
  • Fiscal protest
  • Neoliberalism
  • Social spending
  • Welfare backlash


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