Exploring Attitudes Towards the Welfare State: Students' Views in Eight Democracies

Journal of Social Policy, Vol. 35, No. 5, pp. 607-628, 2006

22 Pages Posted: 4 Oct 2007

See all articles by Clara Sabbagh

Clara Sabbagh

University of Haifa - Faculty of Education

Pieter Vanhuysse

University of Southern Denmark


We explore the dimensionality of attitudes towards the welfare state among university students in eight countries representing four worlds of welfare - liberal, radical, conservative and social-democratic. We use new data from cross-nationally comparable 25-item questionnaires to derive a bifactorial hierarchical model that specifies six different attitude facets. These facets are clustered into two distinct sets of attitudes: the 'market-based frame,' which entails (a) individualism, (b) work ethic and (c) internal attribution of inequality, and the 'welfare-statist frame,' which entails (d) egalitarian redistribution, (e) broad scope of welfare and (f) external attribution of social inequality. In line with our expectations, respondents across different regime types structured their welfare state attitudes according to the six a-priori defined types of attitudes. However, our hypothesis regarding the hierarchical modeling of attitudes into two sets of opposing attitudes is supported only partially. The study also provides an external test of the dimensionality hypothesis by examining the relationship of welfare attitudes to welfare regime type. We find that the six facets are differently affected by regime type, which further corroborates our argument that the construct of welfare attitudes is complex and inherently multidimensional.

Keywords: comparative welfare states, multifaceted attitudes, institutional analysis, social policy

Suggested Citation

Sabbagh, Clara and Vanhuysse, Pieter, Exploring Attitudes Towards the Welfare State: Students' Views in Eight Democracies. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1019116

Clara Sabbagh

University of Haifa - Faculty of Education ( email )

Haifa 31905

Pieter Vanhuysse (Contact Author)

University of Southern Denmark ( email )

Campusvej 55
DK 5230 Odense

Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics