Public Preferences Towards Social Investment: Testing the Importance of Class in a Multilevel Analysis

Friday, July 14, 2017
Humanities LT G255 (University of Glasgow)
Bjoern Bremer , Department of Political and Social Sciences, European University Institute
Previous studies on public attitudes towards social policy have focused on classes (defined in various ways) as the source of political preference formation (e.g. Meltzer and Richard, 1981; Hibbs, 1987; Svallfors, 2004; Rehm, Hacker, and Schlesinger, 2012; Iversen and Soskice, 2015). However, the importance of class in the 21st century has weakened. Large structural processes like technological change, de-industrialisation, and globalisation have created new cross-cutting cleavages and, as a result, classes might explain public attitudes towards social policy less than they use to do. This should be particularly true for attitudes towards social investment policies because the winners of these policies are a dispersed group (Garritzmann et al., 2016). Consequently, this paper tests (1) how important classes are to explain support for social investment and (2) who, if not entire classes, favour social investment policies. Moreover, the paper seeks to establish (3) what coalition potentials exist for social investment reforms and to analyse (4) how these coalitions potentials differ across countries. To answers these questions, the papers uses multilevel modelling and analyses data from the fourth wave of the Comparative Electoral Studies survey. Applying Oesch’s (2006) class scheme, it uses class as a separate level in a multilevel analysis and shows that attitudes towards social investment cluster around class less than commonly thought. Instead, preferences for social investment are determined by a range of other variables creating a heterogeneous group of supporters for social investment policies.