In the last three decades, the mainstream perspective to welfare policy design has emphasised the role of personal responsibility, and justified obligations to stay active in the labour market. Benefit claimants are entitled to support only if they register for job action plans or provide evidence that they are actively looking for a job. Since publication of the OECD Jobs Study (1994), behavioural requirements and sanctions have become the standard tool to enforce claimants’ responsibility. Within this context, this paper considers whether the mainstream perspective based on personal responsibility eliminated traditional differences in welfare regimes; and whether country specific elements played a role in shaping policies affecting unemployment protection and labour market performance. By resorting to regression and cluster analyses, we show that inertia has prevailed. The emphasis on personal responsibility followed public-finance and labour market conditions, rather than a deliberate attempt to design welfare policies in accord with a responsibility framework. To download the paper, please click on the icon below.