Self-Interest, Social Beliefs and Attitudes to Redistribution: Re-Addressing the Issue of Cross-National Variation
European Sociological Review, Vol. 19, No. 4, pp. 393-409, 2003
17 Pages Posted: 9 Jul 2011
Date Written: July 30, 2003
Stefan Svallfors' 1997 conclusion that patterns of attitudes towards redistribution are essentially the same across welfare-state regimes rests on a questionable treatment of missing data and on poor operationalization of the theoretical determinants of public opinion. Using demographic variables to improve the model specification, we identify cross-country differences in the social bases of support for redistribution that confirm predictions of welfare-state scholarship. The gap between married and unmarried people is unimportant in universalist regimes; the insider/outsider cleavage is more important in conservative and specific skills systems; class matters more in liberal regimes. We find additional cross-national variation when we examine whether popular support for redistribution is related to beliefs about social mobility. Specifically, beliefs about why people get ahead in society are key determinants of attitudes towards redistribution in the United States and Australia, but play a more limited role in Norway and Germany.
Keywords: public opinion, welfare-state, comparative, mobility, equality, redistribution
JEL Classification: J16, J18, P16, P52
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation