Chapter 2 Welfare Criticism in Times of Economic Crisis: Perceptions of Moral, Economic and Social Consequences of the Welfare State, 2008–2016
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This chapter investigates how popular perceptions of welfare state consequences have changed in the context of the financial crisis of 2008 and its aftermath. In the wake of the crisis, unemployment rates flared up across Europe. Furthermore, the economic crisis elicited varied policy responses. According to previous research, precisely these contextual factors have the power to affect popular perceptions of welfare consequences. High unemployment rates tend to stimulate concerns for a negative impact of welfare redistribution on economic performance. Social expenditure, conversely, seems to reinforce positive social as well as negative moral and economic perceptions. Therefore, one could expect that the context of crisis has stirred up welfare criticism and eroded positive appraisals of the welfare state. To test these expectations, we analyse how perceptions of economic, moral and social consequences have evolved between 2008 and 2016. Besides mapping aggregate trends, we investigate how individual as well as contextual characteristics affect attitude change.

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