Association Between Individualism and Welfare Attitudes: An Analysis of Citizens’ Attitudes Towards the State’s Welfare Responsibility

Timo Toikko, Teemu Rantanen


The present study examines the association between individualistic values and citizens´ attitudes towards the state’s welfare responsibility (welfare attitudes). This study also examines the association between political placement and welfare attitudes. Data from the European Social Survey (N = 37,743 in 20 countries) are analyzed using a two-level regression analysis. The findings indicate that individualism at the cultural culture is a significant factor in terms of individuals’ attitudes to welfare, in that the higher the level of individualism, the lesser the likelihood that the state’s welfare responsibility is supported. On the other hand, citizens’ attitudes towards state responsibility for welfare are associated with the political placement of those citizens. Politically, people leaning to the right have a lower degree of interest in the state’s welfare responsibility. Furthermore, the degree of individualism modifies the association at the individual level of political placement and welfare attitudes. There is a greater attitudinal difference between the supporters of right-wing and left-wing political views in individualistic countries than in collectivist countries. From a social policy perspective, this study emphasizes the association of individualism and welfare attitudes. The results suggest that social policy is based more on national cultural values than one might assume.


individualism; cultural values; social policy; attitudes to welfare; responsibility for welfare

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ISSN: 2195-3325
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