Rent-seeking as social policy: A UK case study

Authors: Johns, N., Barton, A. and Hyde, M.

Journal: Journal of Social Research and Policy

Volume: 4

Issue: 1

Pages: 21-31

eISSN: 2068-9861

ISSN: 2067-2640


Rent-seeking has been an important concept in economics since the 1950s but has not been sufficiently mined in the field of social policy. This paper aims to address this by employing a UK case study to illustrate the relevance of rent-seeking in this context. In doing so it attempts to set out a means of identifying where rents are sought, by whom and the levers they use to extract them. In the UK rent-seeking and welfare is often implicitly linked to 'welfare scrounging'. Here we show that this is not necessarily the case and that rent-seeking has much greater explanatory power in relation to social policy processes and transfers. By also introducing a contextual dimension we demonstrate that market and bureaucratic forms of rent-seeking can operate simultaneously. More work remains to be done to fully articulate these processes, however this constitutes one starting point for this work to develop.

Source: Scopus