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The welfare state or the economy? Preferences, constituencies, and strategies for retrenchment


Giger, Nathalie; Nelson, Moira (2013). The welfare state or the economy? Preferences, constituencies, and strategies for retrenchment. European Sociological Review (ESR), 29(5):1083-1094.

Abstract

The assumption that voters systematically defend the welfare state is challenged by recent research showing that parties are on average not punished and sometimes even rewarded for welfare state retrenchment. We work to understand better the micro-foundations for this finding of non-punishment by exploring individuals' preferences over social policy. In particular, we distinguish general support for redistribution from views that existing levels of government spending strain the economy. As voters value economic stability in addition to equality, they are hypothesized to tolerate or support retrenchment when they feel that there are economic costs at stake. Analyzing a sample of 13 European societies with data from the European Social Survey Round 4, our results show that only welfare state supporters who do not believe that the welfare state hampers the economy punish retrenching governments. This finding helps explain the lack of more widespread electoral punishment following retrenchment, though other results also suggest that retrenchment involves a rather delicate process of juggling the preferences of diverse constituencies

Abstract

The assumption that voters systematically defend the welfare state is challenged by recent research showing that parties are on average not punished and sometimes even rewarded for welfare state retrenchment. We work to understand better the micro-foundations for this finding of non-punishment by exploring individuals' preferences over social policy. In particular, we distinguish general support for redistribution from views that existing levels of government spending strain the economy. As voters value economic stability in addition to equality, they are hypothesized to tolerate or support retrenchment when they feel that there are economic costs at stake. Analyzing a sample of 13 European societies with data from the European Social Survey Round 4, our results show that only welfare state supporters who do not believe that the welfare state hampers the economy punish retrenching governments. This finding helps explain the lack of more widespread electoral punishment following retrenchment, though other results also suggest that retrenchment involves a rather delicate process of juggling the preferences of diverse constituencies

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:National licences > 142-005
Dewey Decimal Classification:Unspecified
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Sociology and Political Science
Language:English
Date:1 October 2013
Deposited On:16 Oct 2018 15:27
Last Modified:15 Apr 2021 14:47
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:0266-7215
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1093/esr/jcs082

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