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Varieties of Risk Regulation in Europe: Coordination, complementarity & occupational safety in capitalist welfare states

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Henry Frederick Rothstein, David Burgess Demeritt, Regine Paul, Anne-Laure Marie Veronique Beaussier, Mara Wesseling, Michael Howard, Maarten de Haan, Olivier Borraz, Michael Huber, Frederic Bouder

Original languageEnglish
Early online date8 Sep 2017
Accepted/In press18 Jul 2017
E-pub ahead of print8 Sep 2017


King's Authors


This paper tests the extent to which the organisation and stringency of occupational health and safety regulation complements the dominant mode of coordination in the political economy. While the United Kingdom explicitly sanctions risk-cost-benefit trade-offs, other European countries mandate ambitious safety goals. That contrast appears to reflect cleavages identified in the Varieties of Capitalism literature, which suggests worker protection regimes are stronger in co-ordinated- than in liberal-market economies. Our analysis of Germany, France, UK, and the Netherlands, shows that the varied organisation of their regulatory regimes is explained through a three-way complementarity with their welfare systems and modes of coordination. However, despite varied headline goals, we find no systematic differences in the stringency of those countries’ regulatory protections insofar as they all make trade-offs on safety. Instead, the explicitness, rationalisations and logics of trade-offs vary according to each country’s legal system, state tradition, and coupling between regulation and welfare system.

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