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Sustaining State Welfare in Hard Times: Who Will Foot the Bill?

By Peter Taylor-Gooby

Abstract

Recent studies of how European welfare systems are responding to current pressures agree that welfare stares display remarkable resilience. They are being reformed rather than dismantled. New policies are concerned To contain costs and to promote activation, stressing the contribution of welfare to economic competitiveness. Will people support cost constraint? This paper analyses attitude survey data from the 1980s and 1990s to show that approval of the main welfare services is high, bur, in contrast to the findings of earlier studies, there is now some evidence of declining support. Attitudes are not structured according to the accounts of the 'new politics' of welfare (which imply that each regime will produce its own pattern of interests in relation to the groups whose interests are entrenched by current arrangements) but reflect broad lines of income, age and gender, cross-cutting national differences. There is little support for cuts in social services, bur an equally low level of willingness to pay the extra taxes and social contributions required to maintain current standards of provision in the face of rising pressures on welfare. An agenda of activation is likely to prove more acceptable politically than one of cost constraint in all regimes. The implication is that European welfare states face a straitened future, between increasing demands and constrained resources, which may lead public opinion support to dwindle further

Topics: HV
Publisher: Sage Publications Inc
Year: 2001
DOI identifier: 10.1177/095892870101100203
OAI identifier: oai:kar.kent.ac.uk:4698
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