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Following or Leading Public Opinion? Social Security Policy and Public Attitudes Since 1997


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  • John Hills
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    This paper examines New Labour's social security and related policies since 1997 in the light of evidence on public attitudes. The list of measures where policies have been in or have come into line with public attitudes is much longer than the list of measures where policies have been out of line with public attitudes or appear to have led them. One interpretation is that policy has been led by opinion surveys and focus groups, with opportunities lost to take more radical action and then persuade people of the need and justification for it. An alternative would be that policy has navigated with the grain of some of the more progressive parts of public opinion to achieve a result that has carried the public with it, in a way that would not have been sustainable if there had simply been an increase in the generosity of an unreformed social security system.

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    Article provided by Institute for Fiscal Studies in its journal Fiscal Studies.

    Volume (Year): 23 (2002)
    Issue (Month): 4 (December)
    Pages: 539-558

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    Handle: RePEc:ifs:fistud:v:23:y:2002:i:4:p:539-558

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    Cited by:
    1. Marjolein Jeene & Wim Oorschot & Wilfred Uunk, 2014. "The Dynamics of Welfare Opinions in Changing Economic, Institutional and Political Contexts: An Empirical Analysis of Dutch Deservingness Opinions, 1975–2006," Social Indicators Research, Springer, Springer, vol. 115(2), pages 731-749, January.
    2. Abbott, Andrew & Jones, Philip, 2011. "Procyclical government spending: Patterns of pressure and prudence in the OECD," Economics Letters, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 111(3), pages 230-232, June.


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