British Journal of Political Science

Research Article

Marketization via Compensation: Health Care and the Politics of the Right in Advanced Industrialized Nations

Carsten Jensen*


A novel theory of the healthcare policy of right-wing governments is presented in this article. It posits that the politics of health care is inherently different from the politics of a social policy related to the labour market. Health care protects against risks that are in the main uncorrelated with the income distribution. This implies that median voters will favour public provision, while high-income voters will not. This generates a unique challenge to right-wing governments that have to balance the interests of the two. The solution is marketization via compensation, where public spending is expanded but where public support of private market solutions is given special priority.

(Online publication June 09 2011)


* Department of Political Science, Aarhus University (email: The author wishes to thank Jørgen Goul Andersen, Viola Burau, Marius Busemeyer, Christoffer Green-Pedersen and Deborah Stone for comments on earlier drafts of this article.