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Welfare States, Solidarity and Justice Principles: Does the Type Really Matter?

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In this article, we investigate whether and, if so, to what extent, people's notions of solidarity and their choices of justice principles are related to the type of welfare state regime they live under, as well as to individual socio-demographic and ideological factors. We analyse data from the International Social Survey Program 1996 and the European Values Study 1999 , which together cover preferences of citizens from 20 welfare states. Hypotheses pertaining to people's notions of solidarity and preferences for justice principles in the different welfare state regimes are derived from the work of Esping-Andersen and his critics, as well as from sociological and socialpsychological theories of solidarity and distributive justice. We find important, although not decisive, evidence for the thesis that the actual state of affairs with respect to the welfare state regime under which citizens live determines their views about which level of solidarity should be achieved and which justice principles should be emphasized. However, differences found are often not very pronounced, and we argue that this is a consequence of the fact that values of solidarity and justice are matters of priority to all welfare states. Taking into account the differences which exist between welfare state regimes, we also find important differences between individuals and social groups in their preferred level of solidarity and in their choice of justice principles.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 2001

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