What Kind of Legitimacy? How Material Circumstances Make the Two Types of Welfare State Support Mutually Exclusive

About this Session


Fri. 08.04. 09:30



Speaker: Miroslav Nemčok

Support for the welfare system is conventionally measured by two different concepts: support for redistribution (i.e., approval of redistribution principles) and political trust (i.e., a more general degree of trust in the institutions and their main representatives). This research proposes that material circumstances constitute the common denominator impacting the two distinctive types of support for the welfare system in a mutually exclusive way. As people become wealthier, they are less willing to share their “well-deserved” resources. At the same time, their political trust increases, possibly because they believe that the current political representation contributed to the improvement in their lives. On the other hand, as people are getting poorer, they tend to blame, and hence distrust, the government, while their support for redistribution rises because it improves their own situation. These two opposite tendencies are first demonstrated via cross-sectional European Social Survey (ESS) analyses. Second, the internal validity of the role of material circumstances in people’s political trust and redistribution preferences is supported via analyses utilizing three-wave panel surveys conducted in Norway and Germany. Most importantly, these findings imply that welfare systems can enjoy only one kind of support by the same individuals.

Keywords: welfare state, political trust, support for redistribution, material circumstances.