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National Identity and Support for the Welfare State

  • Johnston, Richard

    (University of British Columbia)

  • Banting, Keith

    ()

    (Queen's University)

  • Kymlicka, Will

    (Queen's University)

  • Soroka, Stuart

    (McGill University)

Registered author(s):

    This paper examines the role of national identity in sustaining public support for the welfare state. Liberal nationalist theorists argue that social justice will always be easier to achieve in states with strong national identities which, they contend, can both mitigate opposition to redistribution among high-income earners and reduce any corroding effects of ethnic diversity resulting from immigration. We test these propositions with Canadian data from the Equality, Security and Community survey. We conclude that national identity does increase support for the welfare state among affluent majority Canadians, and that it helps to protect the welfare state from toxic effects of cultural suspicion. However, we also find that identity plays a narrower role than existing theories of liberal nationalism suggest, and that the mechanisms through which it works are different. This leads us to suggest an alternative theory of the relationship between national identity and the welfare state, one that suggests that the relationship is highly contingent, reflecting distinctive features of the history and national narratives of each country. National identity may not have any general tendency to strengthen support for redistribution, but it may do so for those aspects of the welfare state seen as having played a particularly important role in building the nation, or in enabling it to overcome particular challenges or crises.

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    File URL: http://www.su.se/content/1/c6/01/18/05/WP2010_11.pdf
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    Paper provided by Stockholm University Linnaeus Center for Integration Studies - SULCIS in its series SULCIS Working Papers with number 2010:11.

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    Length: 46 pages
    Date of creation: 25 Aug 2010
    Date of revision:
    Publication status: Published in Canadian Journal of Political Science, 2010, pages 349-377.
    Handle: RePEc:hhs:sulcis:2010_011
    Contact details of provider: Postal: Stockholm University Linnaeus Center for Integration Studies - SULCIS, Stockholm University, S-10691 Stockholm, Sweden
    Web page: http://www.su.se/sulcis
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    1. Anna Maria Mayda, 2006. "Who Is Against Immigration? A Cross-Country Investigation of Individual Attitudes toward Immigrants," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(3), pages 510-530, August.
    2. Alberto Alesina & Reza Baqir & William Easterly, 1997. "Public Goods and Ethnic Divisions," NBER Working Papers 6009, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Erzo F. P. Luttmer, 2001. "Group Loyalty and the Taste for Redistribution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(3), pages 500-528, June.
    4. Fearon, James D, 2003. " Ethnic and Cultural Diversity by Country," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 195-222, June.
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