Montesquieu Institute: from science to society

Research on the political and economic explanations on the development of the Dutch government finances

The Montesquieu Institute welcomes Wimar Bolhuis as of March 1 2012 as an external PhD candidate.

Wimar Bolhuis holds a degree in Social and Organisational Psychology, Public Administration and Economics at the Universities of Leiden and Utrecht. Alongside his studies he also worked for the parliamentary party of the Partij van de Arbeid which he continued fulltime after his graduation. He is mainly concerned with the areas of health care, job market and government finances. A course at the London School of Economics and Political Science reinforced his interest in the influence of 'politics' on the range and arrangement of government finances. Do Dutch politicians even have an influence on the government finances or is the development a rather autonomous or technocratic process? Or there any differences between a leftwing and a rightwing cabinet as one might expect? Is the political arrangement of the cabinet or the House more important than the current state of the economy? What causes the political attention and momentum for certain policy expenses, while other areas stay out of harm's way for many years? What is the influence of public administrators or unions and other interest groups? This PhD project tries to answer these questions.

This research project focuses on the political and economic explanations of the development of the Dutch government finances between 1950-2010. It will analyze the political attention for the range and policy arrangement of the government expenses and income, and the consequences of the shifting of the political attention for the government finances. This PhD project is a continuation of his graduation theses for Economics and Public Administration. The research is connected to other Montesquieu and international researches where the focus is put on the politics of attention.

It aims at protracting the political attention for policy areas on the long term. The theoretical framework of the research project, the so called punctuated equilibrium model, assumes that the attention within political institutions seen to progress in extended periods of stasis, punctuated by sudden shifts in radical change. It might explain the characterizing jolting development of the Dutch government finances and its surrounding countries.

This PhD project is under supervision by dr. Arco Timmermans and prof. Jouke de Vries, Campus The Hague of Leiden University.