The Dark Side of the Welfare State - Is the carceral state slowly replacing the welfare state?
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The overarching aim of this thesis is to explore whether traditional welfare politics and the politics of crime and punishment ought to be considered part of the same policy domain — the governance of social marginality. Previous research suggest that the states discussed in this thesis, through public policy and without much public debate, has created a ‘dark side of the welfare state’. The criminal justice system, or ‘the dark side of the welfare state' consistently and predictably leaves large parts of those less well-off outside of society. The research question for this thesis is: “Is there evidence in support of the criminal justice system replacing traditional welfare state politics of governing social marginality? The purpose of this thesis is theory building. The analyses use an innovative cross-sectional time-series dataset compiled for this thesis to map out the effects of different Welfare State Regime Types, crime, the number of police officers, economic variables, and variables on social spending on the dependent variable; the prison population rate per 100 000. What this thesis has found is that politicians and scholars alike ought to pay attention to the issue of unemployment and unemployment benefits. The results suggest that the rather specific measure of how much of previous income is retained in the 60th week after becoming unemployed is particularly indicative of how large a prison population a state has. The findings here also show that crime rates are falling and/or has levelled out, and none of the controls have an effect on the Prison Population Rate. Depending on how it is measured, the much-discussed rise in the Prison Population Rate is more nuanced and not as uniform as often portrayed. What is significant is the decrease in social spending and income inequality – even as the economy of the different states are growing. This thesis suggests that the correlation between which states have the less generous unemployment benefits and the highest incarceration rates follows a regional pattern where Scandinavia and Central Europe perform better than the Eastern Europe and the Anglosphere. Although not definitive proof, it is enough to warrant further research into whether there has occurred a shift where governments increasingly favour the politics of the criminal justice system over welfare state politics when governing social marginality.