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Insecure Alliances: Risk, Inequality, and Support for the Welfare State

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 May 2012

PHILIPP REHM
Affiliation:
Ohio State University
JACOB S. HACKER
Affiliation:
Yale University
MARK SCHLESINGER
Affiliation:
Yale University

Abstract

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.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © American Political Science Association 2012

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