Insecure Alliances: Risk, Inequality, and Support for the Welfare State

American Political Science Review, Vol. 106, No. 2, pp. 386-406, 2012

Posted: 29 Jul 2012 Last revised: 7 Aug 2012

See all articles by Philipp Rehm

Philipp Rehm

Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Political Science

Jacob S. Hacker

Yale University - Department of Political Science; Yale University - Institution for Social and Policy Studies

Mark Schlesinger

Yale University - School of Medicine

Date Written: May 1, 2012

Abstract

Popular support for the welfare state varies greatly across nations and policy domains. We argue that these variations — vital to understanding the politics of the welfare state — reflect in part the degree to which economic disadvantage (low income) and economic insecurity (high risk) are correlated. When the disadvantaged and insecure are mostly one and the same, the base of popular support for the welfare state is narrow. When the disadvantaged and insecure represent two distinct groups, popular support is broader and opinion less polarized. We test these predictions both across nations within a single policy area (unemployment insurance) and across policy domains within a single polity (the United States, using a new survey). Results are consistent with our predictions and are robust to myriad controls and specifications. When disadvantage and insecurity are more correlated, the welfare state is more contested.

Keywords: economic insecurity, inequality

Suggested Citation

Rehm, Philipp and Hacker, Jacob S. and Schlesinger, Mark, Insecure Alliances: Risk, Inequality, and Support for the Welfare State (May 1, 2012). American Political Science Review, Vol. 106, No. 2, pp. 386-406, 2012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2118829

Philipp Rehm

Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Political Science ( email )

Columbus, OH 43210
United States

Jacob S. Hacker (Contact Author)

Yale University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 208269
New Haven, DC 06520-8269
United States

HOME PAGE: http://pantheon.yale.edu/~jhacker

Yale University - Institution for Social and Policy Studies ( email )

89 Trumbull Street
New Haven, CT 06515
United States

Mark Schlesinger

Yale University - School of Medicine ( email )

Department of Epidemiology and Public Health
60 College Street, P.O. Box 208034
New Haven, CT 06520-8034
United States
203-785-4619 (Phone)
203-785-6287 (Fax)

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