University of Twente Student Theses

Login

Welfare states in crisis? Public support of welfare policies over the last 3 decades

Kroeze, K. (2013) Welfare states in crisis? Public support of welfare policies over the last 3 decades.

[img] PDF
1MB
Abstract:The central question in this thesis is ‘how does public support influence welfare policy reforms’. We will investigate public support of redistributive welfare policies over the last 3 decades, by using indicators from the European Values Study (EVS). We investigate if the speed and direction of welfare policy reform is influenced by public support of redistributive welfare policies, using data from the Enrico DeBenedetti Foundation (fRDB). Finally, we introduce economic conditions as a third variable in an elaboration model, using data gathered from the OECD. In line with research by Roosma and her colleagues (Roosma, Gelissen, & van Oorschot, 2013), we find that public support for welfare policies cannot be reduced to a single component. We use two components, attitudes towards redistribution and attitudes towards rights and responsibilities, which evolve differently over time and between countries. Analysis of a possible bivariate relation between the two components of public support for redistributive welfare policies and the speed and direction of reforms, fails to provide a conclusive association. The hypotheses that high support for redistributive welfare policies decreases the number of reforms towards activation is rejected. If anything, the evidence indicates an opposite relation where support for redistributive welfare policies actually increases the number of reforms towards activation policies. We hypothesize this might be the result of blame avoidance mechanics; governments reform policies when they are forced to do so by (economic) pressure, and as an alternative to rolling back policies directly. After introducing economic conditions as a third variable, we find that within our sample, reforms happen almost exclusively after times of economic growth; however this relation disappears completely when we use population data. This result puts some doubt on the blame avoidance hypothesis, as we can find no evidence of a decline in real GDP influencing the number of reforms within our sample. The data indicate that declining economic situations lower the effects of public support on reforms, regardless of the original direction of the effect. During periods of growth high attitudes towards rights and responsibilities appear to increase the number of reforms towards activation, whereas high attitudes towards redistribution appear to decrease the number of reforms towards activation. Furthermore, in most of our sample attitudes towards redistribution decrease after a period of GDP growth, while attitudes towards rights and responsibilities increase. The mixed evidence we found in a number of our analyses is somewhat of a problem, and most likely represents the difficulties in a simplistic approach to a complicated problem. We found indications that country-level variables, possibly even regime types, might play a role. It is likely that other variables, such as the current structure and generosity of benefits, political alignment of current governments, and degree of ageing of the population also play a role. The influence of blame avoidance, and of perceptions of deservingness in particular, is unclear but should be further investigated.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:88 social and public administration
Programme:European Studies BSc (56627)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/63617
Export this item as:BibTeX
EndNote
HTML Citation
Reference Manager

 

Repository Staff Only: item control page