Intergenerational Justice Perceptions and the Role of Welfare Regimes: A Comparative Analysis of University Students
40 Pages Posted: 4 Oct 2007
Date Written: July 2007
This article studies perceptions of intergenerational justice among 2,075 undergraduate university students from eight democracies spanning four different models, or 'worlds,' of welfare. We examine two different, though interrelated, aspects of intergenerational justice: (1) whether, and how, different welfare regimes structure young people's perceptions of the justness of public resources transfers from young to elderly age-groups and (2) the perceived relative contributions and rewards of various age-groups. Thus we inquire about both the perceived support in principle and about the perceived justness of actual outcomes of resource transfers between age-groups. We find that support of transfers from the young to the old is higher in social-democratic and conservative welfare regimes than in liberal and radical regimes. Support of resource transfers also correlates positively with a 'welfare-statist' ideological frame (the endorsement of egalitarian redistribution and broad state responsibility for welfare provision and the attribution of social inequality to external causes), and negatively with a 'market-based' frame (individualism, a work ethic, and internal attribution). Regarding actual outcomes, the following ordering of age-groups obtained regarding perceived contributions to society: Adults > youth > elderly. Regarding perceived rewards from society, the ranking was: Adults > elderly >= youth. The one exception in both cases was formed by the conservative regime, which stands out by its straightforward profile: the younger the age-group, the lower its perceived rewards, and the higher its perceived contributions.
Keywords: Generational politics, student populations, justice attitudes, welfare states, institutional analysis, political sociology
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