Chapter 3 The Perceived Abuse of Welfare Benefits in Times of Crisis: Change or Stability in the Achilles’ Heel of Welfare State Legitimacy?
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This chapter starts from the finding in the 2008 ESS that the weakest spot of the welfare state’s social legitimacy was the high perceived levels of abuse and underuse of welfare benefits. After the shock of 2008 and its aftermath, European governments turned to various measures to address the impact of rising unemployment levels and falling economic growth figures. Some countries utilized stricter entitlements for social benefits and services, others limited social spending. One might expect that these changing macro level conditions altered the two most critical attitudes towards the welfare state. Have the so-called weakest links of welfare state legitimacy been further weakened? And if so, what does this imply for the social legitimacy and future of the welfare state? This chapter accordingly examines whether or not perceived abuse and underuse of welfare benefits have changed in contexts of altering economic and institutional conditions in Europe.

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