Research

This page features a selection of articles and book chapters authored or co-authored by Sven Steinmo. For a full list of citations (available in the curriculum vitae) and an academic biography, please use the links above.

Scroll down to browse all available past and current research projects, or use the links to the right to skip to a specific research topic. To download a particular article or book chapter, click on the pdf icon to the left of the article citation.

 

American Politics

pdf Kopstein, Jeffrey, and Sven Steinmo. 2007. "Growing Apart?" in Growing Apart? America and Europe in the 21st Century by Jeffrey Kopstein and Sven Steinmo (eds.) Cambridge University Press, pp. 1-34.
  Overview: The purpose of this book is to offer a deeper understanding of the sources of cohesion and division both within and between the developed democracies in North America and Europe. To explore these issues, we have brought together a diverse group of experts, each of whom has been asked to examine various dimensions of the growing divide between America and its historical friends and ideological allies. This book does not offer a singular and straightforward answer to complicated questions. Instead it offers a set of fascinating essays, each of which probes different dimensions underlying America's increasingly strained relationship with its democratic neighbors.
 
pdf Hirschland, Matthew J. and Sven Steinmo. 2003. "Correcting the Record: Understanding the History of Federal Intervention and Failure in Securing U.S. Educational Reform." Educational Policy 17(3): 343-364.
  Abstract: The authors show here that contrary to popular rhetoric, at an early stage the American federal government demonstrated remarkable influence over national education policy. This occurred in spite of the fact that the political institutions of the national government were fragmented and poorly organized to accomplish such goals. In this light, the authors' focus is on how late-19th-century developments set the tone and impediments for meaningful educational reform that carry over through today. The historical development of American education detailed here traces the roots of the ongoing policy tug-of-war between localism and national progressive goals that characterize contemporary reform efforts. Ironically, it is its early roots as the premier educational resource provider that has ultimately contributed to the greatly diminished role of the U.S. federal government in education today. This is a legacy that policy makers, parents, and educators are wise to understand but often neglect as they craft reform.
 
pdf Steinmo, Sven, and Jon Watts. 1995. "It's the Institutions, Stupid! Why Comprehensive National Health Insurance Always Fails in America." Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law 20(2): 329-372.
  Abstract: We argue that the United States does not have comprehensive national health insurance (NHI) because American political institutions are biased against this type of reform. The original design of a fragmented and federated national political system serving an increasingly large and diverse polity has been further fragmented by a series of political reforms beginning with the Progressive era and culminating with the congressional reforms of the mid- 1970s. This institutional structure yields enormous power to intransigent interest groups and thus makes efforts by progressive reformers such as President Clinton (and previous reform-minded presidents before him) to mount a successful NHI campaign impossible. We show how this institutional structure has shaped political strategies and political outcomes related to NHI since Franklin D. Roosevelt. Finally, we argue that this institutional structure contributes to the antigovernment attitudes so often observed among Americans.
 
pdf Steinmo, Sven. 1995. "Why Is Government So Small in America?" Governance 8(3): 303-334.
  Summary: I believe that the key to understanding the "exceptional" size of the modern welfare state in America, lies not in differences in spending preferences between America and other democratic nations, but instead in the American state's relative inability to raise sufficient tax revenues to fund these spending preferences. In short, public spending in the US is lower than elsewhere because taxes are lower.
 
pdf Steinmo, Sven. 1994. "Rethinking American Exceptionalism." In The Dynamics of American Politics: Approaches and Interpretations. by Larry Dodd and Calvin Jillson (eds.). Westview Press, pp. 106-131.
  Overview: This chapter will present an institutionalist explanation for this country's small welfare state. I will suggest that the fragmentation of political power in America biases the political system in favor of certain kinds of interests and strategies, while it disadvantages others. This fragmentation profoundly shapes who can effectively participate in politics, how they must be organized, and what is possible to achieve--irrespective of our ideologies or values. I argue further that the fragmentation of power and authority has stripped our political system of efficacy. When American governments do act, they too often act badly. In short, Americans have come to distrust their government because it doesn't work very well.
 
 

Evolution

pdf Lewis, Orion and Sven Steinmo. 2012. "How Institutions Evolve: Evolutionary Theory and Institutional Change." Polity 44, May: 314-339.
  Abstract: This article argues that questions of gradual institutional change can be understood as an evolutionary process that can be explained through the careful application of "generalized Darwinism." We argue that humans' advanced cognitive capacities contribute to an evolutionary understanding of institutional change. In constantly generating new variation upon which mechanisms of selection and replication operate, cognition, cognitive schemas, and ideas become central for understanding the building of human institutions, as well as the scope and pace of their evolution. Evolutionary theories thus provide a broad theoretical framework that integrates the study of cognition, ideas, and decision-making with other literatures that focus on institutional change and human evolution.
 
pdf Blyth, Mark, Geoffrey M. Hodgson, Orion Lewis, and Sven Steinmo. 2011. "Introduction to the Special Issue on the Evolution of Institutions." Journal of Institutional Economics 7(3), September: 1-17.
  Abstract: How can evolutionary ideas be applied to the study of social and political institutions? Charles Darwin identified the mechanisms of variation, selection and retention. He emphasized that evolutionary change depends on the uniqueness of every individual and its interactions within a population and with its environment. While introducing the contributions to this special issue, we examine some of the ontological positions underlying evolutionary theory, showing why they are appropriate for studying issues in economics, political science and sociology. We consider how these ideas might help us understand both institutional change and the formation of individual preferences.
 
pdf Steinmo, Sven. 2003. "The Evolution of Policy Ideas: Tax Policy in the 20th Century." The British Journal of Politics and International Relations 5(2): 206-236.
  Abstract: This analysis traces the evolution of ideas about one of the most important policies facing any state: taxation. The article will demonstrate that elite ideas about tax policy have changed dramatically over the past century and that these ideas have had enormous consequences for the development of the modern state. This article argues that there is an iterative, interdependent and dynamic relationship between policy makers' ideas, political institutions and public policy outcomes.
 
 

Institutional Theory

pdf Steinmo, Sven. [forthcoming]. "Historical Institutionalism and Experimental Methods." In The Oxford Handbook of Historical Institutionalism.
 

Overview: This essay argues that experimental methods and historical analysis can be combined in ways that add signficant value to each. In my view, experimental methods which are not grounded in contextual understandings of real institutions, histories and cultures are mired in abstract theory with little to say about the real world. These methods, however, can and should be used to open the 'black box' between institutions and behavior. Combining these approaches allows us to explore the complex relationships between institutions, ideas, and preferences.

pdf Lewis, Orion and Sven Steinmo. 2012. "How Institutions Evolve: Evolutionary Theory and Institutional Change." Polity 44, May: 314-339.
  Abstract: This article argues that questions of gradual institutional change can be understood as an evolutionary process that can be explained through the careful application of "generalized Darwinism." We argue that humans' advanced cognitive capacities contribute to an evolutionary understanding of institutional change. In constantly generating new variation upon which mechanisms of selection and replication operate, cognition, cognitive schemas, and ideas become central for understanding the building of human institutions, as well as the scope and pace of their evolution. Evolutionary theories thus provide a broad theoretical framework that integrates the study of cognition, ideas, and decision-making with other literatures that focus on institutional change and human evolution.
 
pdf Blyth, Mark, Geoffrey M. Hodgson, Orion Lewis, and Sven Steinmo. 2011. "Introduction to the Special Issue on the Evolution of Institutions." Journal of Institutional Economics 7(3), September: 1-17.
  Abstract: How can evolutionary ideas be applied to the study of social and political institutions? Charles Darwin identified the mechanisms of variation, selection and retention. He emphasized that evolutionary change depends on the uniqueness of every individual and its interactions within a population and with its environment. While introducing the contributions to this special issue, we examine some of the ontological positions underlying evolutionary theory, showing why they are appropriate for studying issues in economics, political science and sociology. We consider how these ideas might help us understand both institutional change and the formation of individual preferences.
 
pdf Lewis, Orion and Sven Steinmo. 2011. "Tomemos en Serio la Evolución: Análisis Institutional y Teoría Evolutiva." Revista de Economía Institucional 13(24), Primer Semestre: 111-151.
  Overview: En este ensayo hacemos un modesto intento de presentación de las teorías evolutivas con el propósito de mostrar que algunos de estos conceptos básicos pueden ser útiles en el estudio de la política y el cambio político. (In this paper we make a modest attempt at presenting evolutionary theories in order to show that some of these basic concepts can be useful in the study of politics and political change).
 
pdf Steinmo, Sven. 2010. "Néo-Institutionnalisme Historique." In Dictionnaire des politiques publiques by Laurie Boussaguet, Sophie Jacquot, and Pauline Ravinet (eds.) Vol. 2, Paris: Presses de Sciences Po, pp.290-298.
  Overview: Le choix entre des règles électorales différentes (c'est-à-dire des institutions différentes) a des conséquences extrêmement importantes sur la nature (et le nombre) des partis politiques qui seront élus au Parlement, sur la façon dont ils représenteront la population et, finalement, sur le type de politiques publiques qui vont être votées dans un pays. Ce choix institutionnel, qui semble relativement simple, aura donc de fortes implications sur la nature même de la démocratie dans ces sociétés. (The choice between different electoral rules (that is to say, different institutions) has extremely important consequences for the nature (and number) of political parties that will be elected to Parliament, on the way they will represent the population, and finally, on the type of public policies that are passed in a country. This institutional choice, which seems relatively simple, will have strong implications for the very nature of democracy in these societies.)
 
pdf Steinmo, Sven. 2008. "Historical Institutionalism." In Approaches in the Social Sciences by Donatella Della Porta and Michael Keating (eds.) Cambridge University Press, pp.113-138.
  Overview: Historical institutionalism is neither a particular theory nor a specific method. It is best understood as an approach to studying politics and social change. This approach is distinguished from other social science approaches by its attention to real-world empirical questions, its historical orientation and its attention to the ways in which institutions structure and shape behaviour and outcomes.
 
pdf Steinmo, Sven. 2008. "What Should the State Do? A Political Economy of Ideas and Institutions." In Institutions and Politics by John Campbell and Peter Naargard (eds.) Copenhagen: DJOF Press, pp.195-226.
  Overview: This paper argues that experiences with one era's tax regime shaped both economists and policy makers ideas about tax reforms for the next era. This analysis has two fundamental objectives: First, it explores how and why virtually all advanced countries embarked on a series of major tax reforms in the late 20th and early 21st century. This paper explains these current reforms in terms of an evolutionary outgrowth of the previous tax regimes dominant in the capitalist world. Secondly, the paper seeks to contribute to the growing body of literature which explored the ideational roots of policy change. I do not argue that ideas determine policy outcomes. Instead, I argue that purely rationalist interest based explanation of policy change fails to capture the substance of that change. I show instead that ideas may be both the agents and the transmission belt of that change.
 
pdf Rothstein, Bo, and Sven Steinmo. 2002. "Restructuring Politics: Institutional Analysis and the Challenges of Modern Welfare States." In Restructuring the Welfare State: Political Institutions and Policy Change. Bo Rothstein and Sven Steinmo (eds). New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp.1-19.
  Overview: This volume contributes to the growing body of literature demonstrating that the "convergence" thesis is simply wrong. But it does more than this: It also tries to explain why. In the simplest terms, our answer is that both history and institutions matter.
 
pdf Steinmo, Sven and Caroline Tolbert. 1998. "Do Institutions Really Matter? Taxation in Industrialized Democracies." Comparative Political Studies 31(2), April: 165-187.
  Abstract: New institutionalism has emerged as one of the most prominent research agendas in the field of comparative politics, political economy, and public policy. This article examines the role of institutional variation in political/economic regimes in shaping tax burdens in industrialized democracies. An institutionalist model for tax policy variation is tested across the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) democracies. Countries are conceptualized and statistically modeled in terms of majoritarian, shifting coalition, and dominant coalition governments. Regression analysis and cluster analysis are used to statistically model cross-national tax burdens relative to the strength of labor organization and party dominance in parliament. This study finds that political and economic institutions are important in explaining tax policy variation. Specifying the structure of political and economic institutions helps to explain the size of the state in modern capitalist democracies. This article specifies and demonstrates which institutions matter and how much they matter.
 
pdf Thelen, Kathleen, and Sven Steinmo. 1992. "Historical Institutionalism in Comparative Politics." In Structuring Politics: Historical Institutionalism in Comparative Analysis. Sven Steinmo, Kathleen Thelen, and Frank Longstreth (eds). New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 1-32.
  Overview: Although historical institutionalism has now been around for several years, few have stepped back to analyze the distinctive features of the kind of historical institutionalism these theorists represent, nor to assess its strengths and overall contribution to comparative politics. These are themes we take up in this introductory chapter.
 
 

Japan

pdf Steinmo, Sven, Emre Bayram, and Andrew DeWit. 2012. "The Chrysanthemum and the Bumble-Bee: Comparing Sweden and Japan's Response to Financial Crisis." (under review).
  Overview: We believe that comparing the Swedish and Japanese cases from the 1990s can help explain why some nations opt to save bankers, with massive costs to the collectivity, while others choose to save their banking system even where it is necessary to make some bankers bankrupt.
 
pdf Ide, Eisaku, and Sven Steinmo. "The End of the Strong State? On the Evolution of Japanese Tax Policy." In The New Fiscal Sociology: Taxation in Comparative and Historical Perspective. Isaac William Martin, Ajay K. Mehrotra, and Monica Prasad (eds). New York: Cambridge University Press, pp.119-137.
  Overview: How and why did Japan move from being a country of remarkable fiscal discipline and balanced budgets to becoming a country known for spiraling deficits? Why, indeed, is it so difficult to get Japanese taxpayers to consent to higher taxes? We submit that the answer to this question lies in the specific policy choices made by successive Japanese governments in the 1990s. During the so-called lost decade, Japan faced both political and economic crises. During these years, the government made the budget situation significantly worse by pursuing neoliberal fiscal policy that disproportionately benefited wealthy taxpayers. Much like the tax policies followed during the Reagan and George W. Bush administrations, these policies indirectly but significantly undermined citizens' confidence in their government. Consequently, the public has been deeply skeptical of the government's subsequent arguments that increases in taxes were necessary to balance the budget or fund the growing demands of Japan's nascent welfare state.
 
pdf Chopel, Alison, Nozomu Kuno, and Sven Steinmo. "Social Security, Taxation and Redistribution in Japan." Public Budgeting & Finance 25(4): 20-43.
  Abstract: The paper examines the social security tax and benefit system in Japan. We offer an analysis of the interaction of taxes and benefits showing that the system has evolved to the point where it may no longer fulfill the original intentions. The system today appears to redistribute income from working people, who on average have lower incomes, to the aged population, which today have higher incomes. We suggest the system is in need of significant reform.
 
 

Social Democracy

pdf Rothstein, Bo, and Sven Steinmo. 2013. "Social Democracy in Crisis? What Crisis?" In Social Democracy in Europe by Michael Keating (ed.). Polity Press (forthcoming).
  Overview: Our argument is that the most reasonable way of judging the performance of the Social Democratic "model for society" is to compare it with other existing macro-models. The most relevant in a European perspective is the centrist Christian Democratic model and the political right's neo-liberal model. The questions are of course these: what should count as success for such macro-models and which countries should be seen as the best representatives of the Social Democratic model of society?
 
pdf Vårheim, Andreas, Sven Steinmo, and Eisaku Ide. 2008. "Do Libraries Matter? Public Libraries and the Creation of Social Capital." Journal of Documentation 64(6): 877-892.
  Abstract: Librarians and the library profession keep repeating that libraries contribute greatly to generating social capital by "building community". However, little evidence of this has been presented. This paper aims to be a first step towards correcting this situation by asking whether public libraries matter in the creation of generalized trust. This study used quantitative data in analyzing macro-level data on whether public library expenditure could explain social trust patterns in the OECD countries. Additionally, a few qualitative interviews with public library leaders in the USA and Norway were used to indicate by what mechanisms, or by which processes, libraries generate generalized trust. The main finding is that public libraries seem the most important factor in creating generalized trust in the OECD area, even more so than efficient/impartial public institutions. However, there is the problem of causal direction. It might be the case that it is high trusting countries that prioritize public libraries. Therefore, times series data are needed as well as qualitative data on the process of trust creation in the library. Interviews with library leaders point towards the fact that they see outreach activities as creating trust and that people trust the library. Replication of these results, however, is crucial. Moreover, the findings appear to indicate that when the library's attention is directed at disadvantaged groups of non-users it is the widespread trust in the public library institution that breeds trust among these groups too. The paper contributes to the understanding/theory of the creation of generalized trust in general and to the role of the public library in this process.
 
pdf Steinmo, Sven. 1988. "Social Democracy vs. Socialism: Goal Adaptation in Social Democratic Sweden." Politics and Society 16(4): 403-446.
  Overview: My argument can be summarized as follows. Over the past century, the Social Democratic elite has repeatedly moderated its ideological position and diffused substantive policy demands of the labor movement in the interest of calming capitalists, soothing coalition partners, and wooing voters. In the process, the party ensconced itself as the natural "party of government," while abandoning its original ambition--to be a truly system-transformative party in the Marxist or early social-democratic sense of the term.
 
 

Sweden

pdf Steinmo, Sven. 2013. "Governing as an Engineering Problem: The Political Economy of Swedish Success." In The Politics of Austerity, edited by Armin Schaefer and Wolfgang Streeck. Polity Press: 84-107.
  Overview: In this chapter I will argue that it is important to distinguish between Sweden's decision-making institutions and its egalitarian welfare state. While these two are related, they need to be understood separately - particularly if we want to appreciate the modern Swedish political economy. The first should be understood as a decision-making model, while the second is a set of policy outcomes. I argue that the 'Swedish model' rests on a particular decision-making regime that, first and foremost, has been highly centralized. I will describe how the system works more specifically below, but it is central to realize that the Swedish decision-making model gives enormous policy autonomy to political and administrative elites.
 
pdf Steinmo, Sven, Emre Bayram, and Andrew DeWit. 2012. "The Chrysanthemum and the Bumble-Bee: Comparing Sweden and Japan's Response to Financial Crisis." (under review).
  Overview: We believe that comparing the Swedish and Japanese cases from the 1990s can help explain why some nations opt to save bankers, with massive costs to the collectivity, while others choose to save their banking system even where it is necessary to make some bankers bankrupt.
 
pdf Steinmo, Sven. 2006. "The Evolution of the Swedish Model." In Internalizing Globalization: The Rise of Neoliberalism and the Erosion of National Models of Capitalism by Philip Cerny, Susanne Soederberg, George Menz (eds.). London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 149-164.
  Overview: The following analysis will instead demonstrate how Swedish political economy has changed quite dramatically since it was first heralded as 'the Middle Way.' I will specifically examine tax policy and show how it has adapted the new political economic realities facing this country at the end of the twentieth century and into the next. This case study evidence suggests neither 'An End to Redistribution' (Steinmo, 1994), nor that 'There Is No Alternative' (TINA), as Mrs Thatcher was fond of saying. Instead, it appears that the Swedes are continuing their historical pattern of manipulating some kind of middle ground between the rampant liberalism of free markets and controlled markets in the hands of a large and powerful state. Swedish tax policy is adapting to the realities of the New Political Economy, but it is not dying because of it.
 
pdf Steinmo, Sven. 2003. "Bucking the Trend: Swedish Social Democracy in a Global Economy." New Political Economy 8(1): 31-48.
  Overview: The following analysis offers a partial test of [globalization] hypotheses through an examination of the politics of taxation and tax reform in the world's most heavily taxed country - Sweden. This paper will demonstrate that over the past 20 years there have indeed been important changes in Swedish taxation policy, and that these changes are systematically connected to changes in political and economic interests, policy ideas and public institutions in Sweden. But the evidence does not support the hypothesis that Sweden has - or is about to - substantially roll back it tax burden and/or its welfare state.
 
pdf Steinmo, Sven. 2002. "Globalization and Taxation: Challenges to the Swedish Welfare State." Comparative Political Studies 35(7), September: 839-862.
  Abstract: Many have argued that the increased international mobility of both capital and labor witnessed in recent years will force advanced capitalist democracies to cut taxes and, thus, ultimately roll back their welfare states. This analysis tests this hypothesis through an examination of policy developments in Sweden, the country with the world's heaviest tax burden and largest social welfare state. The analysis focuses on the history and structure of taxation policy (the policy arena predicted to be most directly affected by globalization). The findings reveal that there have been very important changes in the Swedish welfare state: The tax and spending regimes have been changed less than the globalization thesis predicts. This analysis argues that Sweden has indeed adapted and changed in recent years but finds little support for the more dire thesis that countries like Sweden must abandon their high-tax regimes and/or their generous social welfare systems.
 
pdf Steinmo, Sven. 1988. "Social Democracy vs. Socialism: Goal Adaptation in Social Democratic Sweden." Politics and Society 16(4): 403-446.
  Overview: My argument can be summarized as follows. Over the past century, the Social Democratic elite has repeatedly moderated its ideological position and diffused substantive policy demands of the labor movement in the interest of calming capitalists, soothing coalition partners, and wooing voters. In the process, the party ensconced itself as the natural "party of government," while abandoning its original ambition--to be a truly system-transformative party in the Marxist or early social-democratic sense of the term.
 
 

Taxation

pdf Steinmo, Sven. 2012. "Willing to Pay? Testing Institutional Theory with Experiments." ERC Grant Statement.
  Overview: I believe that only when we better understand both what citizens in different polities actually believe about their state, and why, can we build realistic models to understand how their policy systems can be reformed or adapted in the context of the enormous pressures they face today. This research will thus combine the strengths of classical historical institutionalist analysis with recent developments in cognitive and evolutionary science and decision theory.
 
pdf Steinmo, Sven. 2003. "The Evolution of Policy Ideas: Tax Policy in the 20th Century." The British Journal of Politics and International Relations 5(2): 206-236.
  Abstract: This analysis traces the evolution of ideas about one of the most important policies facing any state: taxation. The article will demonstrate that elite ideas about tax policy have changed dramatically over the past century and that these ideas have had enormous consequences for the development of the modern state. This article argues that there is an iterative, interdependent and dynamic relationship between policy makers' ideas, political institutions and public policy outcomes.
 
pdf Steinmo, Sven. 2002. "Globalization and Taxation: Challenges to the Swedish Welfare State." Comparative Political Studies 35(7), September: 839-862.
  Abstract: Many have argued that the increased international mobility of both capital and labor witnessed in recent years will force advanced capitalist democracies to cut taxes and, thus, ultimately roll back their welfare states. This analysis tests this hypothesis through an examination of policy developments in Sweden, the country with the world's heaviest tax burden and largest social welfare state. The analysis focuses on the history and structure of taxation policy (the policy arena predicted to be most directly affected by globalization). The findings reveal that there have been very important changes in the Swedish welfare state: The tax and spending regimes have been changed less than the globalization thesis predicts. This analysis argues that Sweden has indeed adapted and changed in recent years but finds little support for the more dire thesis that countries like Sweden must abandon their high-tax regimes and/or their generous social welfare systems.
 
pdf Swank, Duane, and Sven Steinmo. 2002. "The New Political Economy of Taxation in Advanced Capitalist Democracy." American Journal of Political Science 46(3), July: 642-655.
  Abstract: We articulate and test an explanation for the remarkable change and continuity in contemporary tax policy in capitalist democracies. We argue that internationalization, domestic economic change, and budgetary pressures each prompt significant changes in tax policy; yet, together, they create a system of constraints on altering the level and distribution of tax burdens. We utilize 1981 to 1995 data from fourteen development democracies to analyze the determinants of taxation. We find that capital mobility and trade are associated with cuts in statutory corporate tax rates but not with reductions in effective average tax rates on capital income. Moreover, we find that capital mobility is negatively associated with the tax components of labor costs. Domestically, structural unemployment leads to reductions in labor and capital taxes while public sector debt and societal needs raise taxes. We conclude with a summary of the new political economy of taxation in capitalist democracies.
 
pdf Steinmo, Sven and Caroline Tolbert. 1998. "Do Institutions Really Matter? Taxation in Industrialized Democracies." Comparative Political Studies 31(2), April: 165-187.
  Abstract: New institutionalism has emerged as one of the most prominent research agendas in the field of comparative politics, political economy, and public policy. This article examines the role of institutional variation in political/economic regimes in shaping tax burdens in industrialized democracies. An institutionalist model for tax policy variation is tested across the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) democracies. Countries are conceptualized and statistically modeled in terms of majoritarian, shifting coalition, and dominant coalition governments. Regression analysis and cluster analysis are used to statistically model cross-national tax burdens relative to the strength of labor organization and party dominance in parliament. This study finds that political and economic institutions are important in explaining tax policy variation. Specifying the structure of political and economic institutions helps to explain the size of the state in modern capitalist democracies. This article specifies and demonstrates which institutions matter and how much they matter.
 
pdf Steinmo, Sven. 1994. "The End of Redistribution? International Pressures and Domestic Tax Policy Choices." Challenge 37(6), November-December: 9-17.
  Overview: Globalization has dramatically increased the ease and availability of the "exit" option for those with large incomes and capital resources. Fearing the flight of capital from their countries (and conversely wishing to attract mobile capital to their countries), governments are being forced to redesign their tax systems--largely irrespective of the preferences or desires of the majority of citizens.
 
pdf Steinmo, Sven. 1989. "Political Institutions and Tax Policy in the United States, Sweden, and Britain." World Politics 41(4), July: 500-535.
  Overview: This paper will demonstrate that the different tax systems found in Sweden, Britain, and the United States can best be explained through an examination of the institutional structures through which these tax systems have been created. We will see, for example, that the Swedish tax system is not particularly progressive, and that Swedish capital is relatively lightly taxes, whereas the United States has a somewhat progressive tax system that taxes capital income more heavily than earned income. Neither interest-group nor value-based explanations can account for these outcomes. But through an examination of how the Swedish corporatist and American pluralist institutions shape the policy preferences of the actors involved in tax policy making we can make sense of these apparently counterintuitive results.
 
pdf Morrissey, Oliver, and Sven Steinmo. 1987. "The Influence of Party Competition on Post-War UK Tax Rates." Policy and Politics 15(4): 195-206.
  Abstract: This paper is concerned with the influence of the British system of 'party government' on tax policy outputs. It has been argued that parties make little difference (Rose, 1984) and have only a minimal influence on the trends in tax revenues (Karran, 1985). This paper examines the post-war trends in the rates of income tax, corporation tax and consumption taxes in the UK. It is argued that there is a relationship between the trend in tax rates and the party in office. Hence, we conclude that parties do make a difference to the distribution of the tax burden, that this difference has recently been more pronounced, that it can be important to taxpayer/voters and that partisan influences have been detrimental to the development of the UK tax system.
 
pdf Steinmo, Sven. 1986. "So What's Wrong with Tax Expenditures? A Different View Using Swedish Evidence." Public Budgeting and Finance 6(1): 27-44.
  Overview: The critique of tax expenditures contains four basic points: They are (1) ineffective, (2) inequitable, (3) nonneutral, and (4) they reduce the resource base. This paper argues that the traditional attack against these tax instruments is often misplaced, and that the critique depends on a set of normative assumptions which need not be accepted a priori. First, the criticism of tax expenditures rests on the liberal (in the neoclassical sense) assumptions that government should stay out of the economy or marketplace. However, this is rarely admitted by those who oppose expenditures. Second, these criticisms imply that tax expenditures should conform to notions of equity and justice which run counter to the very working mechanisms of successful tax expenditures.
 
 

Opinion

pdf Steinmo, Sven. 2005. "The Emperor Had No Clothes: The Politics of Taking Back the APSR." In Perestroika! The Raucous Rebellion in Political Science. Kristen Renwick Monroe (eds). New Haven: Yale University Press, pp. 294-303.
  Overview: I believe that much of the frustration and anger expressed through the Perestroika movement was in part evoked by the fact that the American Political Science Review (APSR) has become something analogous to a standardized test in many political science departments across the country. I further believe that the increasing methodological and intellectual narrowness of this journal did in fact undermine the quality of our graduate training as well as the intellection freedom within our profession.