Age-Based Self-Interest, Intergenerational Solidarity and the Welfare State: A Comparative Analysis of Older People’s Attitudes Towards Public Childcare in 12 OECD Countries
48 Pages Posted: 2 Sep 2008 Last revised: 20 Nov 2009
Date Written: September 2, 2008
When faced with the necessity of reforming welfare states in ageing societies, politicians tend to demand more solidarity between generations because they assume that reforms require sacrifices from older people. Political economy models, however, do not investigate such a mechanism of intergenerational solidarity, suggesting that only age-based self-interest motivates welfare preferences. Against this backdrop, this article asks: Does the experience of intergenerational solidarity within the family matter for older people’s attitudes towards public childcare, a policy area of no personal interest to them? The statistical analysis of a sample with individuals aged 55 from 12 OECD countries indicates that (1) intergenerational solidarity matters, that (2) its effect on policy preferences is context-dependent and that (3) influential contexts must – according to the evidence from 12 countries - be sought in all societal spheres, the political (family spending by the state), the economic (female labour market integration) and the cultural (public opinion towards working mothers). Overall, the findings imply that policy-makers need to deal with a way more complex picture of preference formation toward the welfare state than popular stereotypes of “greedy geezers” suggest.
Keywords: family, solidarity, welfare state preferences, childcare, generations, worlds of welfare capitalism
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