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Decommodification and the worlds of welfare revisited

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Clare Bambra



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Sage Publications Ltd., 2006.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


This paper critically examines the theoretical, empirical and methodological limitations of Esping-Andersen’s Three Worlds of Welfare decommodification index. It highlights an, to date, overlooked error in Esping-Andersen’s original calculations that led to the incorrect positioning of three borderline countries (Japan, the UK and Ireland) and resulted in the empirically erroneous composition of the Three Worlds of Welfare. Updated decommodification data from 1998/99 are used to explore the influential role of variable weighting in the creation of the three worlds typology. Finally, the paper revisits the decommodification index to examine how the relationships between the countries have changed since 1980. The paper concludes by questioning the extent to which the Three Worlds of Welfare still exist, and indeed, at least in empirical terms, the extent to which they ever did.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Bambra C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of European Social Policy

Year: 2006

Volume: 16

Issue: 1

Pages: 73-80

Print publication date: 01/02/2006

Online publication date: 01/01/2006

Date deposited: 04/02/2017

ISSN (print): 0958-9287

ISSN (electronic): 1461-7269

Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd.


DOI: 10.1177/0958928706059835


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