Self-interest as Determinant of Social Policy Preferences Among the Electorates of the New Left and the Populist Right

35 Pages Posted: 21 Jun 2013 Last revised: 14 Aug 2013

See all articles by Nicolas Pekari

Nicolas Pekari

Swiss Centre of Expertise in the Social Sciences (FORS)

Georg Lutz

Swiss Centre of Expertise in the Social Sciences (FORS)

Date Written: 2013

Abstract

An extensive literature has focused on how individuals favour policies that directly benefit them or shelter them from risks they are particularly vulnerable to. At the same time, other researchers have argued that values are more central to how people construct their preferences. The debate on to what extent self-interest truly matters is still open and empirical findings are at times inconclusive. We view this question from two additional perspectives: First of all, we study whether the impact of self-interest varies among electorates, especially those at the endpoints of the new cultural divide: the new left and the populist right. We argue that the new left electorate is in general more favourable towards welfare state policies irrespective of whether these policies benefit them or not, as they derive this position from an ideology based on social equality. In contrast, the electorate of the populist right is attracted to the party rather by its cultural dimension and its traditionalist-communitarian values. Thus these voters base their positions on social policy more on their own economic situation. Secondly, we argue that the “new” welfare state needs to be analysed through its multiple policies which have different supporters and different determinants of support. We therefore use four different measures: support for overall social spending, spending on unemployment benefits, the redistributive aspect of unemployment insurance, and childcare provision by the state. We find the effect of income to be particularly dependent on the electorate, with confirmation of our hypotheses of the difference between new left and populist right voters. We also find important variation among determinants of support for different policies, some, such as childcare by the state are highly ideological in nature, while others, such as general support for unemployment policies is more dependent on self-interest.

Keywords: Welfare state attitudes, self-interest

Suggested Citation

Pekari, Nicolas and Lutz, Georg, Self-interest as Determinant of Social Policy Preferences Among the Electorates of the New Left and the Populist Right (2013). EPSA 2013 Annual General Conference Paper 593, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2224972

Nicolas Pekari (Contact Author)

Swiss Centre of Expertise in the Social Sciences (FORS) ( email )

Bâtiment Géopolis, 5th floor
Lausanne, CH-1015
Switzerland

Georg Lutz

Swiss Centre of Expertise in the Social Sciences (FORS) ( email )

Bâtiment Géopolis, 5th floor
Lausanne, CH-1015
Switzerland

HOME PAGE: http://www.georglutz.ch

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