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

See all articles by Katerina Linos

Katerina Linos

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law ; University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law Study Group

Martin R. West

Harvard Graduate School of Education

Date Written: July 30, 2003

Abstract

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

Linos, Katerina and West, Martin R., Self-Interest, Social Beliefs and Attitudes to Redistribution: Re-Addressing the Issue of Cross-National Variation (July 30, 2003). European Sociological Review, Vol. 19, No. 4, pp. 393-409, 2003. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1881090

Katerina Linos (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law ( email )

488 Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States

University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law Study Group

Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States

Martin R. West

Harvard Graduate School of Education ( email )

6 Appian Way
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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