İbrahim Öker


Peer Reviewed Articles

(2022) “The Historical Origins of Generous Authoritarian Welfare States” (Job Market Paper, available upon request)

In the absence of electoral and interest group pressures, why some authoritarian regimes provide generous social welfare is puzzling. To provide an answer to this question, this study investigates the deep historical roots of generous authoritarian welfare states. I argue that the presence of a particular type of authoritarian political party---the integral mass party (IMP)---produces generous welfare states in settings with strong state apparatuses. IMPs are ideologically motivated to pursue intrusive nation-building policies that propel the distribution of social benefits broadly. Strong states enable autocratic elites to carry out these policies and develop robust welfare states. Drawing on three original datasets, this study shows that this intersection has produced robust authoritarian welfare states that distribute social welfare to broad segments of society and have high-quality social benefits.

(2022) “The four global worlds of welfare capitalism: Institutional, neoliberal, populist and residual welfare state regimes” Journal of European Social Policy (with Erdem Yoruk and Gabrieal Tafoya)

What welfare state regimes are observed when the analysis is extended globally, empirically and theoretically? We introduce a novel perspective into the ‘welfare state regimes analyses’ – a perspective that brings developed and developing countries together and, as such, broadens the geographical, empirical and the- oretical scope of the ‘welfare modelling business’. The expanding welfare regimes literature has suffered from several drawbacks: (i) it is radically slanted towards organisation for economic co-operation and development (OECD) countries, (ii) the literature on non-OECD countries does not use genuine welfare policy variables and (iii) social assistance and healthcare programmes are not utilized as components of welfare state effort and generosity. To overcome these limitations, we employ advanced data reduction methods, exploit an original dataset (https://glow.ku.edu.tr/) that we assembled from several international and domestic sources covering 52 emerging markets and OECD countries and present a welfare state regime structure as of the mid-2010s. Our analysis is based on genuine welfare policy variables that are theorized to capture welfare generosity and welfare efforts across five major policy domains: old-age pensions, sickness cash benefits, unemployment insurance, social assistance and healthcare. The sample of OECD countries and emerging market economies form four distinct welfare state regime clusters: institutional, neoliberal, populist and residual. We unveil the composition and performance of welfare state components in each welfare state regime family and develop politics-based working hypotheses about the formation of these regimes. In- stitutional welfare state regimes perform high in social security, healthcare and social assistance, while populist regimes perform moderately in social assistance and healthcare and moderate-to-high in social security. The neoliberal regime performs moderately in social assistance and healthcare, and it performs low in social security, and the residual regime performs low in all components. We then hypothesize that the relative political strengths of formal and informal working classes are key factors that shaped these welfare state regime typologies.

Published Version

(2019) “Indigenous Unrest and the Contentious Politics of Social Assistance in Mexico.” World Development, 123 (with Erdem Yoruk and Lara Sarlak)

Is social assistance being used to contain ethnic and racial unrest in developing countries? There is a growing literature on social assistance policies in the Global South, but this literature largely focuses on economic and demographic factors, underestimating the importance of contentious politics. The case of Mexico shows that social assistance programs are disproportionately directed to indigenous popula- tions, leading to diminished protest participation. Drawing on data from the 2010, 2012 and 2014 rounds of the Latin American Public Opinion Project, we apply multivariate regression analysis to examine the determinants of social assistance program participation in Mexico. Our study finds that after controlling for income, household size, age, education, and employment status, indigenous ethnic identity is a key determinant in who benefits from social assistance in Mexico. Our results show that high ethnic disparity in social assistance is not only due to higher poverty rates among the indigenous population. Rather, indigenous people receive more social assistance mainly because of their ethnic identity. In addition, this study demonstrates that indigenous people who benefit from social assistance programs are less likely to join anti-government protests. We argue that this ethnic targeting in social assistance is a result of the fact that indigenous unrest has become a political threat for Mexican governments since the 1990s. These results yield substantive support in arguing that the Mexican government uses social assistance to contain indigenous unrest. The existing literature, which is dominated by structuralist explanations, needs to strongly consider the contentious political drivers of social assistance provision in the Global South for a full grasp of the phenomenon. Social assistance in Mexico is driven by social unrest and this suggests that similar ethnic, racial, religious and contentious political factors should be examined in other developing countries to understand social assistance provisions.

Published Version

(2019) "The Variable Selection Problem in the Three Worlds of Welfare Literature”, Social Indicators Research, 144 (2), 625-646 (with Erdem Yoruk, Kerem Yildirim, and Burcu Yakut-Cakar)

Based on a quantitative meta-analysis of empirical studies, this article points out a significant flaw in the Three Worlds of Welfare literature, the “variable selection problem.” Compiling, classifying, and quantitatively analysing all variables that have been employed in this literature, the article shows first that variable selection has depended more on case selection than on theory. Scholars tend to employ variables based on data availability, rather than selecting variables according to theoretical frameworks. Second, the use of welfare policy variables is mostly limited to the analysis of Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, while studies analysing non-OECD countries, where data is limited, tend to use developmental outcome variables as a proxy. This tendency harms conceptualization and operationalization of welfare regimes, as well as blur the boundary between development and welfare regimes studies. Third, the use of original Esping-Andersen variables remains very limited, undermining continuity, comparability, and reliability within the literature.

Published Version

Book Chapters

(2019) “Fragile transitions from education to employment: Youth, gender and migrant status in the EU”. In E. Colombo (Ed.), Youth and the Politics of the Present: Coping with Complexity and Ambivalence. London: Routledge. (Cetin Celik, Fatos Goksen, Alpay Filiztekin, and Mark Smith)

In this chapter, we map vulnerability in school-to-work (STW) transitions across the EU by the intersectionality of gender and migrant status. Following Anthias (2013), we consider intersectionality as social location such as gender, class, race, sexuality, faith, disability and so on, not an identity, that create constrains, opportunities and strategies. Overall, our results suggest that low-educated migrant women may have fewer options than EU-born women on the labour market and so take up the more limited range of jobs that are available to them given their qualifications, skills and migrant status. The findings also indicate that less-educated EU-born women have higher rates of employment compared to migrant women. Based on our findings, we argue that regimes characterised by an institutionalised VET system and strong counselling support for training and employment such as that found in Denmark tend to perform relatively well in facilitating school-to-work transitions of different vulnerable groups. One of the major strengths of the universal regime seems to lie in its minimal streaming and flexible education, supported by broad second-chance options at local levels, both in education and training. These polices play a major role in integrating vulnerable groups such as low-skilled and minority youth into education and the labour market.

Published Version