Reaching for Mass Opinion

in Why Welfare States Persist

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2007 | ISBN: 9780226075839
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226075952 | DOI:
Reaching for Mass Opinion

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Domain-specific measures can present a limited, even at times misleading, portrait of trends and crossnational differences in welfare state regimes. This chapter considers the magnitude of the linkages between mass opinion and social policy across aggregated versus domain-specific dimensions of social policy output. It examines whether the effects of both officials' strategic activities and organized interest groups are “larger” with respect to specific policy domains. This would mean that the policy effects of mass preferences are muted or even displaced in the face of interest group influence and the autonomy of politicians. Opinion/policy linkage would thus be stronger with respect to aggregated welfare output. The chapter analyzes the magnitude of opinion/policy linkages across aggregated versus specific social policy domains. It also looks at six further measures of spending or entitlements within specific policy domains, such as sickness benefits and expenditures on the aged. It begins by outlining two different conceptions of what it means by “policy responsiveness.”

Keywords: social policy; mass preferences; sickness benefits; policy responsiveness; mass opinion; output; spending; entitlements; interest groups; welfare state

Chapter.  8154 words. 

Subjects: Political Economy

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