IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/spr/soinre/v109y2012i3p515-534.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Can We Improve the Measurement of Attitudes Towards the Welfare State? A Constructive Critique of Survey Instruments with Evidence from Focus Groups

Author

Listed:
  • Achim Goerres

    ()

  • Katrin Prinzen

    ()

Abstract

There is a large and growing literature on welfare state attitudes, most of which is built on random-sample population surveys with standardised closed-question items. This article criticises the existing survey instruments, especially those that are used within the International Social Survey Programme, in a novel approach with focus group data from Germany. The article demonstrates: firstly, these instruments underestimate the inconsistency (the degree to which attitudes logically contradict each other), the uncertainty (the degree to which individuals are unsure about what to think), the ambivalence (the simultaneous occurrence of positive and negative reactions) and non-attitudes towards welfare state activities that common people have. Secondly, the meaning of these items to respondents seems to vary to such an extent that inference based on such measures is questionable. Finally, the article concludes by suggesting some survey instruments that alleviate these measurement problems. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Suggested Citation

  • Achim Goerres & Katrin Prinzen, 2012. "Can We Improve the Measurement of Attitudes Towards the Welfare State? A Constructive Critique of Survey Instruments with Evidence from Focus Groups," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 109(3), pages 515-534, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:soinre:v:109:y:2012:i:3:p:515-534
    DOI: 10.1007/s11205-011-9915-5
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s11205-011-9915-5
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Ram Cnaan, 1989. "Public opinion and the dimensions of the welfare state," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 21(3), pages 297-314, June.
    2. Richard Carson & Nicholas Flores & Norman Meade, 2001. "Contingent Valuation: Controversies and Evidence," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 19(2), pages 173-210, June.
    3. Valerie Møller & Ida Erstad & Dalinyebo Zani, 2010. "Drinking, Smoking, and Morality: Do ‘Drinkers and Smokers’ Constitute a Stigmatised Stereotype or a Real TB Risk Factor in the Time of HIV/AIDS?," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 98(2), pages 217-238, September.
    4. Tito Boeri & Axel Börsch-Supan & Guido Tabellini, 2001. "Would you like to shrink the welfare state? A survey of European citizens," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 16(32), pages 7-50, April.
    5. Louviere,Jordan J. & Hensher,David A. & Swait,Joffre D., 2000. "Stated Choice Methods," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521788304.
    6. Runt Veenhoven, 2002. "Why Social Policy Needs Subjective Indicators," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 58(1), pages 33-46, June.
    7. Anders Wikman, 2007. "Context Effects as an Illustration of Response Uncertainty –A Cautionary Tale," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 84(1), pages 27-38, October.
    8. repec:cup:apsrev:v:92:y:1998:i:03:p:513-531_21 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. repec:cup:apsrev:v:95:y:2001:i:04:p:875-893_40 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Anne Lindsay & Anita Hubley, 2006. "Conceptual Reconstruction through a Modified Focus Group Methodology," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 79(3), pages 437-454, December.
    11. Anders Wikman, 2006. "Reliability, Validity and True Values in Surveys," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 78(1), pages 85-110, August.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:spr:soinre:v:109:y:2012:i:3:p:515-534. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sonal Shukla) or (Rebekah McClure). General contact details of provider: http://www.springer.com .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.