What Makes People Worry about the Welfare State? A Three-Country Experiment

Forthcoming in British Journal of Political Science

39 Pages Posted: 11 Sep 2015 Last revised: 21 Jun 2018

Achim Goerres

University of Duisburg-Essen - Institute of Political Science

Rune Karlsen

University of Oslo - Department of Political Science

Staffan Kumlin

University of Oslo - Department of Political Science; Institute for Social Research, Norway

Date Written: May 2018

Abstract

Welfare states are exposed to a host of cost-inducing “reform pressures.” An experiment implemented in Germany, Norway, and Sweden tests how various reform pressure frames matter for perceptions about the future financial sustainability of the welfare state. Such perceptions have been shown to moderate electoral punishment for welfare reform, but we know little about their origins. Hypotheses are formulated in dialogue with newer research on welfare state change, as well as with older theory expecting more stability in policy and attitudes (i.e. the “new politics” framework). Additionally, we consult research drawing on “deservingness theory.” The results suggest large variation in impact across treatments. The most influential path to effective pressure framing is to “zoom in” on specific economic pressure linked to undeserving groups (above all immigration, but also to some extent low employment). Conversely, a message emphasizing pressure linked to a very deserving group (population aging) had little effect. A second conceivable path to pressure framing entails “zooming out,” i.e. making messages span a diverse and more broadly threatening set of challenges. This possibility, however, received weaker support.

Keywords: Welfare state, Framing, Reform pressure, Welfare state sustainability, Blame avoidance

Suggested Citation

Goerres, Achim and Karlsen, Rune and Kumlin, Staffan, What Makes People Worry about the Welfare State? A Three-Country Experiment (May 2018). Forthcoming in British Journal of Political Science. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2658992 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2658992

Achim Goerres (Contact Author)

University of Duisburg-Essen - Institute of Political Science ( email )

Lotharstrasse 65
Duisburg, D-47057
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.achimgoerres.de

Rune Karlsen

University of Oslo - Department of Political Science ( email )

Moltke Moesvei 31
Olso, 0851
Norway

Staffan Kumlin

University of Oslo - Department of Political Science ( email )

PO Box 1097
Blindern
Oslo, 0317
Norway

Institute for Social Research, Norway ( email )

PO Box 3233 Elisenberg
Oslo, 0208
Norway

HOME PAGE: http://socialresearch.no

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
76
rank
288,361
Abstract Views
447
PlumX