Perceptions about Institutional Quality and Preferences for Economic Redistribution

About this Session


Wed. 10.04. 15:25



Author – Bilyana Petrov


This project examines the impact of perceptions about the quality of government on support for state sponsored redistribution. While existing scholarship has identified a number of factors that shape welfare state attitudes, individual evaluations of institutional quality have received relatively little attention. This omission is problematic because many countries around the world suffer from severe governance problems. I seek to address this gap by studying the way in which exposure to information about institutional inefficiency affects views on the role of the state in alleviating socio-economic inequality. To do this, I run a survey experiment embedded in a conjoint experiment in the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Poland. This empirical strategy allows me to explore how respondents’ support for state-sponsored redistribution changes in response to their being primed to think about the quality of the institutional apparatus in their country. I begin by presenting participants with information about the misuse of state funds allocated to social benefits. I proceed to assess whether perceptions about the quality of government affect citizens’ preferred policy interventions and policy designs. I first examine their support for state-sponsored redistribution, their belief that the government should bear the greatest responsibility for reducing economic inequality, and their willingness to turn to other actors. Crucially, I also explore the interaction between perceptions about institutional quality and respondents’ income, education, labor market risk, and political ideology. I then check if exposure to information about institutional inefficiency induces people to embrace specific policy designs that might be more or less susceptible to fraud. In a last step, I focus on other forms of inequality-alleviating policies, testing if citizens embrace measures to reduce economic inequality that take place outside the realm of the welfare state.