The Party's Over: The End of the Welfare State Boom in Western Europe provides the first comprehensive account of the West German Pension Reform Law 1972 (Rentenreformgesetz 1972 - RRG 1972), which marked the end of the period of rapid welfare state growth in Western Europe after World War II. Alfred C. Mierzejewski uses extensive archival research to explore how the law was conceived, how it was modified and expanded during parliamentary debate, and the effects that it had after it was enacted. Mierzejewski puts the reform into Western European context by comparing it with British and French efforts to develop their public pension systems since the seventeenth century. In doing so, The Party’s Over highlights both the general trends in post-World War II Western European welfare state development as well as the differences in how these three countries organized and managed their pension plans. Mierzejewski underscores the political risk that endangers old age pensions delivered by government mandated pay-as-you-go systems and demonstrates how policy matters, revealing how the end of the West European welfare state boom is relevant and significant for both workers and retirees today.
Alfred C. Mierzejewski is professor of modern German history at the University of North Texas.
Chapter One: Background to Reform
Chapter Two: The Social Democrats’ Effort to Humanize Pensions: Sep 1969-Mar 1971
Chapter Three: Money to Spend: March - October 1971
Chapter Four: The Pension Bazaar: October 1971 - May 1972
Chapter Five: Pension Reform and Regime Change: June - October 1972
Chapter Six: Reverberations
Chapter Seven: Conclusions
In 1972, the German Bundestag voted overwhelmingly to approve a major and costly pension reform bill, based on overly optimistic predictions of economic and demographic growth. Alfred C. Mierzejewski does a magnificent job of reconstructing this pivotal moment in the West German, and indeed, Western European welfare state. This is an impressive work by a historian and social scientist at the top of his game.
Mierzejewski has written a superbly well-researched and well-argued study about a turning point in the postwar history of West Germany and Western Europe. It charts a clear path through the complex story of the West German pension reform of 1972 and dissects the economics and, especially, the politics that led to its rapid unraveling. This is a brilliant book that deserves a wide readership!
Mierzejewski provides overwhelming evidence for ‘the inability of many political actors to recognize reality’ in this detailed analysis of the creation of the 1972 West German Pension Reform Law and its subsequent problems. This is one of the most thorough accounts of the politics behind a social welfare policy that I have read.