What explains variation in governments’ policy choices to protect jobs and incomes at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in Western Europe? Departing from existing literature that emphasises path-dependency, this article proposes a dynamic model of policy-making in a major emergency. Building on the idea that governments face a trade-off between targeting and reversibility, the article develops a framework that accounts for both continuity and change in governments’ policies to protect jobs and incomes during the pandemic. Introducing a four-fold typology of ideal-typical policy responses (strong reinforcement, weak reinforcement, over-provision and under-provision), it is argued that the interaction between institutional legacies and political power of the beneficiaries of a given policy determines the response that governments opt for. Case studies of three policy areas (short-time work; unemployment insurance and social assistance) across the five largest Western European countries (Germany, France, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom) support the proposed theoretical framework.
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Clegg, D., Durazzi, N., Heins, E. & Robertson, E. 2023, 'Policy, power and pandemic: Varieties of job and income protection responses to Covid-19 in Western Europe', Journal of European Public Policy. https://doi.org/10.1080/13501763.2023.2242907