The Two Worlds of Issue Politics: A Survey Experiment on Welfare State Retrenchment

Abstract

How much does the messenger matter when it comes to welfare cuts? This study reports the results of an experiment that asked participants in two countries to evaluate a series of welfare cuts, where the treatment groups had the cuts attributed to different political parties. Previous research on issue ownership indicates that social democratic parties have their welfare cuts viewed more favorably than conservative parties because they primarily created the welfare state. Conceptually, I distinguish between issue ownership – trust for a party – and an issue deficit – distrust for a party. Prior studies are unable to distinguish between conservative proposals being unpopular and social democratic proposals being popular and are therefore unable to determine if creating welfare programs boosts credibility or if cutting welfare harms credibility. The results indicate that Sweden and the United Kingdom conform to different models – with voters rewarding expansion in Sweden and punishing cuts in the UK.

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started
%d bloggers like this: