062 The Impact of the Economic Crisis On Public Support for the Welfare State

Tuesday, June 25, 2013: 2:00 PM-3:45 PM
A0.08 (Oudemanhuispoort)
This session focuses on the impact of economic fluctuations and particularly crises on welfare state attitudes. Although the availability of large comparative data sets has helped to clarify the effects of institutional contexts on welfare state attitudes, the effects of economic fluctuations are still an under-researched topic. Some prior studies have indicated that economic crises tend to increase support for the welfare state as people become more dependent on social security benefits. However, it is also imaginable that a severe economic downturn could reduce expectations or even make voters welcome budget cuts as a necessary means of economic recovery. Further, there may be regime differences depending on the relative weight of social services and income protection / cash benefits. One could also imagine that people’s willingness to pay taxes is higher during economic prosperity whereas solidarity may become weaker when resources are scarce. Moreover, one might expect different reactions between those who are exposed to social risks during a recession or crisis, and those who are not. In that case, the impact could be a polarization of attitudes.

Altogether, our empirical knowledge is very limited – and this holds also for theoretical sophistication in this subfield of attitude research. We would welcome a variety of contributions – based on national or on comparative data, based on time series or on cross-section data examining the impact of economic perceptions on welfare state attitudes, or based on other pieces of evidence.

Jørgen Goul Andersen and Heikki Ervasti
Stefan Olafsson
Economic Downturns and Public Support for the Welfare State
Heikki Ervasti, University of Turku; Jørgen Goul Andersen, University of Aalborg; Mikael Hjerm, University of Umeå
The Rise and Fall of Social Cohesion
Christian Albrekt Larsen, Aalborg University
How Welfare States Shape the Democratic Public
Staffan Kumlin, Institute for Social Research, Oslo; Isabelle Stadelmann-Steffen, University of Bern
Resistance to Retrenchment
Troels Fage Hedegaard, Aalborg University
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