Why are some countries better able to sustain egalitarian outcomes attained in past decades in the current inhospitable conditions? Moreover, why have egalitarian practices proven fragile in some countries with traditionally strong social democratic governments and powerful unions and yet have been sustained in countries with disjointed unions and right-wing parties in power? Italy and Sweden, the central cases examined in this paper, reflect these diverging trends. In view of understanding why certain countries better sustain egalitarian institutions and outcomes, the paper investigates how two inter-related institutional traits set countries apart in terms of how egalitarian institutions were constructed and dismantled and how these traits influenced the type of institutional remnants and bargaining dynamics maintained in the aftermath. The two traits in question are: (a) the type of confederal groupings and; (b) the range of wage scale coverage.

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