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Capitalisms Compared

Capitalisms Compared
Welfare, Work, and Business

First Edition

August 2013 | 392 pages | CQ Press
How different would Americans’ lives be if they had guaranteed access to health care, generous public pensions, paid family leave, high-quality public pre-school care, increased rights at work, and a greater say in how corporations are run?

This one-of-a-kind book emphasizes that differences in policies and institutions affect the lives of citizens by comparing health, pension, and family policies, as well as labor markets and corporate governance in the United States, Sweden, and Germany. Demonstrating that the US model of capitalism is not the only one that is viable, Bowman encourages students not only to rethink their assumptions about what policy alternatives are feasible, but also to learn more about American capitalism through insightful contrast. Covering a wide range of policy areas and written in a crisp, engaging style, Capitalisms Compared is a perfect companion for courses in political economy and public policy.

Chapter 1: Introduction
Comparing Political Economies: Markets, Politics, and Institutions

Welfare States: Welfare State or Social Security State?

The Social Democratic Welfare State: Politics against Markets

The Liberal Welfare State: Embracing the Market

The Conservative Welfare State: Protecting Society from the Market

“Varieties of Capitalism:” Business Institutions and Strategies

Liberal Market Economies: Reaching for the Invisible Hand

Cooperative Market Economies: Patient Capital and Non-market Coordination

The plan of this book

Chapter 2: Health Policy
Is Health Care a Commodity?

Germany: Private Practice and Universal Coverage

Basic Structure: Compulsory Non-profit Insurance

Sweden: A Right to High Quality Health Care

Basic Structure: County-level Provision of Services

The United States: Incomplete Coverage through Private and Public Insurance

The Private Welfare State in Health Care

The Long Road to Health Policy Reform

Present Structure: From Public Insurance to No Insurance



Private insurance

The Uninsured

Comparing Systems and Outcomes

Chapter 3: Pension Policy
Paying as You Go: Where Do Pensions Come From?

Germany: Earnings-related Public Pensions

Current Policy: The Shift away from Guaranteed Benefits

Sweden: Public Pensions with “Notional” Accounting

Current Policy: Introducing the Market to the Social Democratic Model

The United States: A Public-Private Pension Mix with Precarious Retirement

Social Security Today: A False Crisis

Private Pensions: The Disappearing Promise

Comparing Pension Systems and Outcomes

Chapter 4: Family Policy
Bringing Families Back In

Sweden: Paid Family Leaves and Universal Public Childcare

Current Policy: Toward Gender Equality?

Germany : Moving Beyond the Male Breadwinner Model

Current Policy: Family Leaves, Cash Assistance, and Child Care

The United States: Juggling Work and Family through the Market

Current Policy: The Limits of Tax Breaks

Comparing Policies and Outcomes

Chapter 5: The Labor Market
Human Effort as a Commodity: The Distinctive Features of Labor Markets

The “Two Faces of Unionism”: Are Unionized Firms more Efficient?

The Structure of Collective Bargaining and the Logic Centralized Wage-setting

Sweden: Flexible Centralization?

The Historic Compromise

Wage Bargaining in Contemporary Sweden

Workplace Participation and Job Security

Germany: Co-determination and Coordinated Bargaining

Background and Overview

Works Councils: Employee Representation on the Job

Labor Market Organizations and Collective Bargaining

Job Security and Labor Disputes

The United States: Bargaining among Unequals

The Rocky Path toward the Right to Unionize

The Unionized Sector: Organization

Wages, Benefits, and Protections: Comparing the Union and Non-union Sectors

The Decline of Unions in the US

Comparing Systems and Outcomes

Chapter 6: Corporate Governance and Finance
In Whose Interests? Shareholders Versus Stakeholders

The United States: Stock Market Capitalism Run Amok?

From Public Service Corporations to Industrial Capitalism

From Managerialism to “Shareholder Value”

Germany: Patient Capital and Bank Control

Postwar Corporate Governance: The Classic German Model

The Reform of German Corporate Governance

Sweden: Capitalist Enterprise without Capitalists?

The Post-War Model of Corporate Governance in Sweden

Swedish Corporate Governance in Transition?

The Financial Crisis of 2008-2009 and Its Aftermath


Chapter 7: The Viability of Alternative Forms of Capitalism
Globalization and the Economic Feasibility of Alternative Capitalisms.

Neoliberalism and the Political Feasibility of Alternative Capitalisms

Conclusion: But Not in the US?


“The comparisons between the U.S., Sweden, and Germany, which retain great analytical clarity and sophistication throughout, are superbly structured. The detail on recent policy reform, in chapters such as pensions or the labor market, are an especially welcome component which has no real competitor text. The fact is that you cannot find any other book that is as comprehensive in making structured public policy comparisons to understand the rich variety of capitalistic models that the modern world economy is capable of producing.”

Jeffery Lewis
Cleveland State University

Capitalisms Compared provides, in a single source, an accessible, effective, and productive comparative analysis of the character and practical operation of different types of capitalism and, in so doing, details the main insights of the field of political economy and thereby addresses a noteworthy deficiency that currently plagues the extant scholarship. John Bowman has developed a text that is at the forefront of its genre. I would strongly recommend it not only to teachers of comparative public policy and political economy, but also to anyone interested in gaining a sound understanding of the field.”

Shaun Young
University of Toronto Scarborough

“I am quite impressed by the individual chapters on policy areas and countries, in their accessible and readable treatment of the subject, rich examples, and the right amount of detail. They reflect solid research and expert knowledge, especially in reference to the relevant empirical data and history of each of the three welfare states.”

Tomasz Inglot
Minnesota State University-Mankato
Key features
  • Clear and concrete descriptions of complex policy areas enable students to gain a full understanding of how policies and institutions actually work.
  • Policy comparisons are presented in a way that emphasizes the relevance of policies to students' lives and well-being.  
  • Key Concepts and Questions for Review and Reflection enable students to check their understanding and push them to reexamine their assumptions about the appropriate role of government.

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