Disentangling policy design: proximity as an explanation of the policy design effect on attitudes towards social benefits

Activity: Talks and presentationsTalks and presentations in private or public companies


The fact that the design of a policy has an effect of the public support has previously been documented - universal policies are in general more popular than contributions-based policies, which in turn enjoy more public support than the selective kind. The literature welfare attitudes have provided various explanations for these differences, drawing on a combination of self-interest, perceptions of the recipient group, and administrative setup. This article seeks to combine self-interest and target group perceptions in an integrated explanation by outlining and testing the effect of being proximate to recipients of the benefit. Using data on attitudes towards five social benefits in Denmark the article shows different attitude pattern from proximity between universal, contributions-based, and selective policies. This is interpreted as universal policies creating positive images of recipients and common interests among the entire population, contributions-based policies creating an insider-outsider split, and selective policies singling out a specific part of the population, both in terms of public perceptions of the group and the self-interest in supporting it. The article thus provides micro level evidence, and a possible unified explanation, of the differences between universal, contributions-based, and selective policies.

American Sociological Association: Annual Meeting 2013
Period10 Aug 201313 Aug 2013
Held atUnknown external organisation