English title: Popular perceptions of welfare state consequences: A multilevel, cross-national analysis of 25 European countries

Author(s): Wim van Oorschot - Tim Reeskens - Bart Meuleman -

Language: English

Type: Journal article

Year: 2012


The societal effects of the welfare state are a perennial issue in the public debate. Critics accuse the welfare state of having unintended economic and moral consequences rather than producing its intended social goals. Popular perceptions of possible consequences of the welfare state are a crucial component of welfare state legitimacy, but have received hardly any scholarly attention. Using the 2008 wave of the European Social Survey, we analyse how European citizens perceive the consequences of the welfare state, whether perceived positive consequences outweigh the negative consequences, and to what extent consequence perceptions are determined by individual and country-level factors. The conclusion is that the European public has a clearer eye for the positive social than for negative economic and moral consequences. Moreover, at the individual level these perceptions are mainly influenced by ideational factors, while they are affected by welfare state generosity at the country level. Interestingly, in more developed welfare states the public perceives the negative, as well as the positive consequences more strongly.

Volume: 22

Issue: 2

From page no: 181

To page no: 197

Refereed: Yes

DOI: 10.1177/0958928711433653

Journal: Journal of European Social Policy

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