Coming to Europe: American Exceptionalism and American Migrants’ Adaption to Comprehensive Welfare States

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Abstract

The US has not developed a comprehensive welfare state, unlike most other Western countries, and this has been subject to a number of different interpretations. One of the prominent theories is that Americans carry a special creed of individuality and liberty that can be traced back to the establishment of the American nation state. This cultural “American exceptionalism” is argued to be a hindrance to welfare state development in the past as well as in the future. The article challenges this cultural essentialist interpretation by comparing the attitudes towards government responsibility for welfare policies among first generation American migrants living in Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark to Americans living in the US. The article finds, using propensity score matching, that the Americans exposed to the institutional context of North European welfares states are more supportive of governmental responsibility for sick, pensioners, unemployed and redistribution than are the American control group.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Sociology
Volume49
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)130-147
ISSN0020-7659
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2019

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