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
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
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