English title: Human Values and Welfare State Support in Europe: An East–West Divide?

Author(s): Joakim Kulin - Bart Meuleman -

Language: English

Type: Journal article

Year: 2015


This study uses comparative data from the European Social Survey to investigate the influence of self-transcendence and conservation values on public support for the welfare state. The results firstly show that these value dimensions are strongly related to welfare state support in the majority of the countries investigated. The main contribution of this study, however, is that it evidences striking differences between countries regarding which values drive welfare attitudes, and the strength of the association between values and attitudes. Moreover, we show that the between-country variation in value effects is systematically related to contextual factors. Self-transcendence values are found to be a strong predictor of welfare state support in countries with high levels of social expenditure. In the less generous welfare states of Eastern Europe, the effects of self-transcendence values are weaker or absent. In Eastern European countries, conservation rather than self-transcendence values drive attitudes to the welfare state. Outspoken cohort differences in value effects in Eastern European countries as well as persisting differences between East and West Germany confirm our interpretation that the particular Eastern European pattern can be ascribed to the unique experiences of ‘authoritarian egalitarianism’ under communism.

Volume: 31

Issue: 4

From page no: 418

To page no: 432

Refereed: Yes

DOI: 10.1093/ESR/JCV001

Journal: European Sociological Review

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