DIGSSCORE Tuesday seminar

Armèn Hakhverdian: Real but Unequal Representation in Welfare State Reform

Armèn Hakhverdian presented a paper by himself, Wouter Schakel and Brian Burgoon, Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR), University of Amsterdam.


Scholars have long debated whether welfare policymaking in industrialized democracies is responsive to citizen preferences, and whether such policymaking is more responsive to rich than to poor citizens. These debates have been hampered, however, by difficulties in matching data on attitudes to particular policies to data on changes in actual policy generosity. This paper uses better, more targeted measures of policy change that allow more valid exploration of responsiveness for a significant range of democracies. It does so by linking multi-country and multi-wave survey data on attitudes towards health, pension and unemployment policies, to data on actual policy generosity, not just spending, in these domains. This reveals that attitudes strongly correlate with subsequent changes in welfare generosity in the three policy areas, and that such responsiveness is much stronger for richer than for poorer citizens. Representation is likely real but also vastly unequal in the welfare politics of industrialized democracies.