From Competition to Constitution: Races to Bottoms and the Rise of "Shadow" Social Europe

Author
Éloi Laurent
Content Type
Working Paper
Institution
Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard University
Abstract
In this paper, I examine how the specific nature of economic integration in the European Union has affected member states' redistribution policies over the last two decades. More precisely, I attempt to detail the effect of social-tax competition between member states within social models, processes that I label “races to bottoms.” In this framework, I identify the emergence of an informal set of rules effectively constraining national redistribution policies in different ways, given the diversity of tax-social compacts in the EU. Because these rules are implicit and their effect generally underestimated, I gather them under the notion of “shadow” social Europe. Having empirically assessed the impact of this dynamic on the “continental,” the “Nordic,” the “eastern” and the “liberal” social-tax compact, I finally try to present a normative perspective and some policy options on this matter.
Topic
Development, Economics, Government
Political Geography
Europe