-Peter Gourevitch, University of California, San Diego
"Research on the Asian cases is now providing new insights into the political logic of the welfare state. In this powerful revisionist account of Japan, Margarita Estevez-Abe explains how relatively modest levels of social spending have nonetheless contributed to a relatively equal distribution of income and extensive protection against market risks. She does this by focusing on a variety of state interventions not typically considered social policy instruments, from rural public works programs to state-managed competition in particular markets. Moreover, she nests this discussion of market institutions and the varieties of capitalism in a consideration of Japan's formal political institutions as well. This is a first-rate piece of political economy that will have important implications across the welfare state literature."
-Stephan Haggard, University of California, San Diego
"In this subtle and powerful book, Estevez-Abe solves what for many social scientists is a profound mystery about Japan by showing how Japan's recent economic collapse stems from the same policies that generated the earlier rapid growth that made Japan famous. The Japanese government gave big businesses support and leeway to invest and grow, but this very protection stifled innovation. This is far more than a 'Japan book.' Estevez-Abe shows how electoral competition guided the LDP's policy mix and explains which firms got government backing, with what trade-offs for economic performance and wealth distribution."
-Frances Rosenbluth, Yale University
"An amazing book. It offers an original characterization of the political economy of the Japanese welfare state, a detailed thematic story of social policy decision making over decades, and an audacious proposition that electoral systems explain (almost) everything. I have some quibbles with all three arguments and I certainly hope the prediction that the Japanese welfare state will soon look like the British welfare state will not come true, but I know that Japanologists and comparativists with any interest in social policy, economics, and politics will have to take this formidable book into account."
-John Campbell, University of Michigan