Views about the possible impact of ‘globalization’ on welfare regimes fall into the three broad categories outlined in the previous chapter. Hyperglobalizers argue that growing GEPs associated with increased trade openness and capital mobility have radically affected traditional social and economic arrangements in the advanced societies. By relating these changes to shifts in the institutional foundations of different welfare regimes these observers suggested that pressures to adopt neoliberal social and economic policies can be directly traced back to economic difficulties that have their origins in the global economy. Sceptics, on the other hand, argue that changes in the international economy have at best had a minimal impact on welfare regimes, maintaining that regime change, such as it is, is better attributed to endogenous economic factors such as domestically induced unemployment and low growth, changes in gender relations and household arrangements, and the ageing of populations in the advanced societies. This approach can also hold that institutional factors inhibit the full force of economic pressures, whatever their origins. Finally, the middle way/weak globalization perspective contends that economic change at the global level is increasing, but does not exert the degree of pressure on national welfare arrangements that globalization enthusiasts believe. Commentators favouring this approach point out that welfare regimes are able to accommodate global pressures by adjusting their institutional foundations in ways that do not fundamentally alter their character. In contrast to the globalization thesis, from this perspective there is no ‘race to the bottom’ spurred by attempts to reduce social spending and levels of protection in order to accommodate market demands for neoliberal solutions. Rather – and in general terms – it is possible to observe an ongoing process of (differential) adjustment to the impact of new economic phenomena, which has recently been characterized by Leibfried and Obinger as ‘divergent convergence’. These writers (Leibfried and Obinger, 2001: 5) draw attention to the ways in which different approaches to reform are influenced by a number of factors including ‘the partisan complexion of government, the power resources and aggregation capacity of trade unions and employers, the system of interest mediation … and … the institutional legacy of the welfare regime’.