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The Politics of Parliamentary Pensions in Western Democracies

Understanding MPs’ Self-Imposed Cutbacks

Anna Caroline Warfelmann

The author takes a close look at the politics of parliamentary pensions in Australia, Austria, Canada, and Germany and enlightens the reasons of self-imposed cuts by Members of Parliament. Members of Parliament in western democracies have been under growing pressure since they legislated first retrenchments of national social security systems. They are in a special situation because they have to decide about their own financial situation as well. Thus, it is surprising that they cut their own pension benefits in recent years. The book shows that the self-imposed cuts by Members of Parliament were related to public pension reforms but, in general, were less substantial.
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4 Research Design and Methods


4.1 Research Design: Multiple Case Study Design

The empirical analysis of this study focuses on parliamentary pension scheme reforms in four OECD countries. The aim is to describe the reform process and to identify reasons for representatives’ self-sacrificing behavior. A multiple case study design was chosen, because “case studies (…) allow one to peer into the box of causality to the intermediate causes lying between some cause and its purported effect” (Gerring 2004: 348). Case studies are suitable for analyzing complex situations that are embedded in their real-life context (Yin 2003: 18). This analysis includes several data sources; the combination helps to illuminate a more nuanced picture of the topic. Furthermore, the theoretical arguments developed in the previous chapter guide the data gathering and analysis by helping to determine “where to look for relevant evidence” (Yin 1994: 21).

4.1.1 Case Study as a Research Strategy

A case study, “is when a ‘how’ or ‘why’ question is being asked about a contemporary set of events over which the investigator has little or no control” (Yin 1994: 9). As such, the case study research design is a suitable research strategy for investigating the self-restrictions of members of parliament when the following conditions are fulfilled: (1) a ‘how’ or ‘why’ research question is to be answered, (2) the focus lies on a contemporary event, and (3) the researcher cannot control or influence the events under study.

First, this study examines how, why, and when...

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