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United in Diversity?Comparing Social Models in Europe and America$
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Jens Alber and Neil Gilbert

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195376630

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195376630.001.0001

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THE INEQUALITY OF ELECTORAL PARTICIPATION IN EUROPE AND AMERICA AND THE POLITICALLY INTEGRATIVE FUNCTIONS OF THE WELFARE STATE

THE INEQUALITY OF ELECTORAL PARTICIPATION IN EUROPE AND AMERICA AND THE POLITICALLY INTEGRATIVE FUNCTIONS OF THE WELFARE STATE

Chapter:
3 THE INEQUALITY OF ELECTORAL PARTICIPATION IN EUROPE AND AMERICA AND THE POLITICALLY INTEGRATIVE FUNCTIONS OF THE WELFARE STATE
Source:
United in Diversity?
Author(s):

Jens Alber

Ulrich Kohler

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195376630.003.0004

The Eastern enlargement of the European Union (EU) raised the issue as to what extent the new member states would follow in the policy footsteps of the old member states rather than taking the United States as their role model. Drawing a polemical distinction between “old” and “new Europe”, a former U.S. secretary of defense suggested that the Central and Eastern European countries might adhere more closely to the United States as the superpower that helped end their dependence upon the Soviet Empire. This chapter examines to what extent patterns of political participation differ between the United States and Europe, and where exactly the new member states fit in this comparison. It shows that electoral turnout is higher and less socially skewed in Western Europe than in the United States. The higher inclusiveness of the (Western) European State(s) fosters political integration and the equality of electoral participation. Differences between Europe and America diminish considerably when the analysis is confined to the pensioner generation, whose integration into welfare state schemes is largely similar on both sides of the Atlantic.

Keywords:   European Union, United States, political participation, electoral participation, social inequality

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