Does India have Subnational Welfare Regimes? The Role of State Governments in Shaping Social Policy

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Abstract

This article asks whether state governments in India had developed sufficient autonomy during the era of multi-party fragmentation (1989–2014) to determine and implement their own distinctive policy agendas in the field of social policy. It uses cluster analysis to look for variation in the welfare regimes of state governments within India’s federal system. Employing the metrics of (de)commodification and defamilialization commonly used in the comparative cross-national literature on welfare regimes to assess the extent to which public welfare provision reduces dependence on market forces and family structures, the paper finds that India’s states cluster in ways that suggest the existence of distinctive subnational welfare regimes rather than straightforward variation within a national welfare regime. The analysis challenges the national-level bias inherent in previous studies of comparative welfare regimes and offers insights into the operation of regional autonomy within the domain of social policy in India’s federal system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-102
JournalTerritory, Politics, Governance
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2022

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