The end of work or work without end? The role of voters' beliefs in shaping policies of early exit
The rise and fall of policies regulating early exit from labour markets remains enigmatic for comparative politics. Most explanations focus on structural or institutional causes. A missing source of national variation, this discussion paper argues, lies in cross-country differences in voters' attitude. Whereas in some European countries voters would not think that there is a trade-off between the employment of older and younger workers, in others this is a dominant paradigm. I describe these differences in opinion, as well as their potential and limits for explaining reform in this policy area. A multi-level analysis of Eurobarometer data shows that low employment rates and high levels of labour market regulation lead more people to believe in such a trade-off. This belief is rather the result of voters' perceptions of how labour markets work than the result of their personal situation.
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