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The Demand for Social Insurance: Does Culture Matter?

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  • Beatrix Eugster
  • Rafael Lalive
  • Andreas Steinhauer
  • Josef Zweimüller

Abstract

Can different social groups develop different demands for social insurance of risks to health and work? We study this issue across language groups in Switzerland. Language defines social groups and Swiss language groups are separated by a clear geographic border. Actual levels of social insurance are identical on either side of the within state segments of the language border. We can therefore study the role of culture in shaping the demand for social insurance. Specifically, we contrast at the language border actual voting decisions on country-wide changes to social insurance programs. Key results indicate substantially higher support for expansions of social insurance among residents of Latin-speaking (i.e. French, Italian, or Romansh) border municipalities compared to their German-speaking neighbors in adjacent municipalities. We consider three possible explanations for this finding: informal insurance, ideology, and the media. We find that informal insurance does not vary enough to explain stark differences in social insurance. However, differences in ideology and segmented media markets are potentially important explanatory factors.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Royal Economic Society in its journal The Economic Journal.

Volume (Year): 121 (2011)
Issue (Month): 556 (November)
Pages: F413-F448

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Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:121:y:2011:i:556:p:f413-f448

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Fehr, Ernst & Hoff, Karla, 2011. "Tastes, castes, and culture : the influence of society on preferences," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5760, The World Bank.
  2. Frank Betz & Christoph Carl Basten, 2012. "Beyond Work Ethic: Religion, Individual and Political Preferences," KOF Working papers 12-309, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.
  3. Eugster, Beatrix, 2013. "Effects of a higher replacement rate on unemployment durations, employment, and earnings," Economics Working Paper Series 1320, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.
  4. Nicolas R. Ziebarth & Gert G. Wagner, 2013. "Top-down v. Bottom-up: The Long-Term Impact of Government Ideology and Personal Experience on Values," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1280, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  5. Markussen, Simen & Røed, Knut, 2012. "Social Insurance Networks," IZA Discussion Papers 6446, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Stichnoth, Holger & Yeter, Mustafa, 2013. "Cultural influences on the fertility behaviour of first- and second-generation immigrants in Germany," ZEW Discussion Papers 13-023, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  7. Erik SCHOKKAERT & Tom TRUYTS, 2014. "Preferences for redistribution and social structure," Center for Economic Studies - Discussion papers ces14.01, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Centrum voor Economische Studiën.
  8. Yamamura, Eiji, 2012. "Effects of siblings and birth order on income redistribution preferences," MPRA Paper 38658, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  9. Eugster, Beatrix & Parchet, Raphaël, 2013. "Culture and Taxes: Towards Identifying Tax Competition," Economics Working Paper Series 1339, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.

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