Do mass policy preferences influence the policy output of welfare states in developed democracies? This is an important issue for welfare state theory and research, and this article presents an analysis that builds from analytical innovations developed in the emerging literature on linkages between mass opinion and public policy. The authors analyze a new dataset combining a measure of social policy preferences with data on welfare state spending, alongside controls for established causal factors behind social policy-making. The analysis provides evidence that policy preferences exert a significant influence over welfare state output. Guided also by statistical tests for endogeneity, the authors find that cross-national differences in the level of policy preferences help to account for a portion of the differences among social, Christian, and liberal welfare state regimes. The results have implications for developing fruitful connections between welfare state scholarship, comparative opinion research, and recent opinion/policy studies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science