Chapter 7 Do institutions matter? The interplay between income benefit design, popular perceptions and support for social welfare
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Chapter 7 develops a theoretical model which postulates that the link between the institutional design of an income benefit and its social legitimacy is mediated by three types of popular perceptions: self-interest, programme performance and welfare deservingness. Based on Dutch survey data, we show that these intermediate perceptions are meaningfully related to the institutional set-up of three differently organized benefit schemes in the Netherlands. People’s emphasis on deservingness criteria, for example, appears to be in accordance with the normative principles embodied in the benefit schemes. We also show that the three types of perceptions affect public support for welfare allocation to the target groups of the benefit schemes. The higher citizens’ perceived self-interest in and perceived performance of a welfare programme, the more strongly they support the distribution of public resources to its target group. And the more strongly a person emphasizes the criteria of reciprocity or need, the more (s)he opposes welfare provision.

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