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

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  • John Hills

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • John Hills, 2002. "Following or Leading Public Opinion? Social Security Policy and Public Attitudes Since 1997," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 23(4), pages 539-558, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:ifs:fistud:v:23:y:2002:i:4:p:539-558
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    Cited by:

    1. Gordon Anderson & Alessio Farcomeni & Grazia Pittau & Roberto Zelli, 2014. "A new approach to measuring and studying the characteristics of class membership: The progress of poverty, inequality and polarization of income classes in urban China," Working Papers tecipa-521, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
    2. 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: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 115(2), pages 731-749, January.
    3. Abbott, Andrew & Jones, Philip, 2011. "Procyclical government spending: Patterns of pressure and prudence in the OECD," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 111(3), pages 230-232, June.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs

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