Austerity has been at the center of political controversy following the 2008 financial crisis, invoked by politicians and academics across the political spectrum as the answer to, or cause of, our post-crash economic malaise. However, despite being the cause of debate for more than three centuries, austerity remains a poorly understood concept.

In this book, Suzanne J. Konzelmann aims to demystify austerity as an economic policy, a political idea, and a social phenomenon. Beginning with an analysis of political and socioeconomic history from the seventeenth century, she explains the economics of austerity in the context of the overall dynamics of state spending, tax, and debt. Using comparative case studies from around the world, ranging from the 1930s to post-2008, she then evaluates the outcomes of austerity in light of its stated objectives and analyzes the conditions under which it doesn’t – and occasionally does – work.

This accessible introduction to austerity will be essential reading for students and scholars of political economy, economics, and politics, as well as all readers interested in current affairs.

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  • November 2019
  • 174 pages
  • 138 x 216 mm / 5 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $59.95
  • 9781509534869
  • Paperback $19.95
  • 9781509534876
  • Open eBook $9.99
  • 9781509534883
Table of Contents
Chapter 1

Chapter 2
Shifting Responses to the Evolution of National Debt and the Economic Role of the State

Chapter 3
National Accounting and the Economics of Austerity

Chapter 4
Selling Austerity – Economics, Politics and Society

Chapter 5
Austerity and Welfare – An Unstable Mixture: Britain, Germany & the United States between the Wars

Chapter 6
Austerity (and Stimulus) in Post-war Chile, America, Ireland and Japan

Some have Austerity thrust upon them, Others Embrace it: Ireland, Greece and the United Kingdom after the 2008 crisis

Chapter 8
Post-2008 Variations on Austerity: Iceland and the United States

Chapter 9
Austerity’s political economic, ideological and socio-cultural dimensions

Chapter 10


About the Author
Suzanne J. Konzelmann is Reader in Management at Birkbeck, University of London
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“Suzanne J. Konzelmann’s book is an incredibly valuable contribution to the growing backlash against austerity. The broad and rich historical and international perspective confirms that these pernicious policies have a track record of failure.”
Geoff Tily, senior economist, Trades Union Congress

“In the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis, austerity policies were imposed in many countries, with results ranging from disappointing to disastrous. Konzelmann shows how the logic of austerity was fundamentally undermined by the emergence of the welfare state in the twentieth century. Austerity policies threaten the automatic stabilizing effects of a large welfare state, and are therefore counterproductive.”
John Quiggin, University of Queensland

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