welfare state, feminism, gender, gender relations, comparative politics, europe


This thesis examines how different welfare state regimes affect gender relations by examining variations in welfare regimes and outcomes for women between Western European countries. The research seeks to understand how the diverse systems of social provision affect women: particularly with regard to their position in the labor market and in their ability to balance occupational and domestic work. Using a comparative, qualitative approach, I compare three Western European welfare states (Germany, the United Kingdom, and Sweden) to evaluate gender-relevant welfare policy with female employment rates, unemployment rates, and wage differentials. Welfare states and labor market policies affect outcomes for women because these policies influence and structure women's ability to enter paid labor and at the same time perform the majority of household labor and care work. To study the effect of welfare state variations upon women, I argue that a gender-focused model of welfare states is necessary. I borrow from Diane Sainsbury's (1996) framework establishing two contrasting ideal-types and combine this with Pascal and Lewis' (2004) gender equality model. Using this framework, I will assess whether my case studies vary around specific gender dimensions of variation including bases of entitlement, maternal and parental leave, pension, and the organization of care work. Preliminary findings align Germany and the United Kingdom with a male breadwinner gender model and Sweden with a dual-earner dual-carer model, although recent policy reforms in Germany and the United Kingdom oriented toward a Scandinavian welfare model may affect future gender outcomes. My research question hopes to uncover how welfare regimes and specific gender-relevant policies support or ignore women's labor force participation by reconciling work and home for women through an evaluation of gender-relevant outcomes for women. Systematically looking at the structure of welfare state provision and outcomes through a gender-relevant framework enhances our knowledge of the ways in which the varieties of gender regimes accommodate or perpetuate women's inequality in democracies.


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Graduation Date



Hamann, Kerstin


Master of Arts (M.A.)


College of Sciences


Political Science

Degree Program

Political Science








Release Date

May 2010

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)