In the past decades, the European welfare states became substantially challenged due to several major economic, social, and political developments. Longer-term challenges have been exacerbated by the shock of the banking crisis in 2008.
At the same time, worldwide political and military conflicts set off sizeable refugee and migration movements towards Europe, thereby creating concerns about additional strains on existing welfare systems. As a reaction these interconnected crises, some European governments implemented far-reaching fiscal consolidation programmes, including welfare retrenchment, labour market reforms and austerity programs.
In this crisis-ridden context, the necessity and fairness of solidaristic relationships are widely debated across Europe. The ESS welfare attitudes modules - fielded in Round 4 (2008/09) and Round 8 (2016/17) - contain unique information to shed scientific light on these debates.
These modules measure, among others, how European populations see the role of government in providing welfare for different groups in society and how they evaluate the outcomes their national welfare states produce. The questions in the modules address public opinions regarding ‘old solidarity questions’ (such as intergenerational solidarity or solidarity between the working and the unemployed) as well as new trends in social policy, such as the idea of a Universal Basic Income or the Europeanization of social policy.
During this seminar, we present a series of interesting lessons learnt from the two welfare attitudes modules. After explaining the contents and conceptual model of the questionnaire modules, we discuss insights regarding over-time changes in welfare support and criticism, the link between welfare support and political trust, welfare chauvinism and support for a Universal Basic Income and Social Europe.
About the speakers
Bart Meuleman is Full Professor at the Centre for Sociological Research (CeSO), University of Leuven (Belgium). His main research interests are cross-cultural survey methodology and cross-national comparisons of value and attitude patterns.
Staffan Kumlin is Professor of Political Science at the University of Oslo (UiO, Norway). His research involves comparative political behaviour, public opinion, and democracy in European welfare states.
Christian Staerklé is Associate Professor of Social Psychology at the Institute of Psychology, at the University of Lausanne (Switzerland). Using survey, experimental and qualitative methods, his research studies opinion formation in the domains of social welfare, institutional legitimacy and multiculturalism, both from a comparative perspective and within countries.