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
Date Written: May 1, 2012
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
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