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Int J Health Serv. 1998;28(4):607-82.

Neoliberalism, "globalization," unemployment, inequalities, and the welfare state.

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  • 1Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins University, School of Hygiene and Public Health, Baltimore, MD 21205-1901, USA.

Abstract

This analysis of "neoliberalism" and its economic and social consequences is presented in six sections. Section I begins by describing the impact of neoliberal public policies on economic growth and inflation, on business profits and business investments, on productivity, on business credit, on unemployment and social inequalities, on social expenditures, and on poverty and family debt. The author shows that, except in the area of business profits and control of inflation, neoliberal policies have not proved superior to those they replaced. Section II deals with unemployment and social polarization in the developed capitalist countries. The author criticizes some of the theories put forward to explain these social problems, such as the introduction of new technologies and globalization of the economy, and suggests that a primary reason for these problems is the implementation of neoliberal policies. Section III challenges the widely held neoliberal perception that the U.S. economy is highly efficient and the E.U. economies are "sclerotic" due to their "excessive" welfare states and "rigid" labor markets. The author shows that the U.S. economy is not so dynamic, nor the E.U. economies so sclerotic. Some developed countries with greater social protection and more regulated labor markets are shown to be more successful than the United States in producing jobs and lowering unemployment. The reasons for the growing polarization in developed capitalist countries, rooted in political rather than economic causes, are discussed in section IV--especially the enormous power of the financial markets and their influence on international agencies and national governments, and the weakness of the labor movements, both nationally and internationally. Section V questions the major theses of globalization. The author shows that rather than globalization of commerce and investments, we are witnessing a regionalization of economic relations stimulated by political considerations. He also analyzes the globalization of capital finance, criticizing the thesis that capital markets are determining public policies. The economic determinism that underlies the globalization position is questioned, uncovering the importance of political explanations for understanding major social problems such as unemployment. Finally, section VI shows that neoliberal public policies on the deregulation of labor markets are creating enormous instability in the labor force, worsening the living conditions of the majority of the populations.

PMID:
9842492
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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