Welfare State Attitudes in Context: Local Contexts and Attitude Formation in Sweden

Welfare state attitudes are often studied from the perspective of the individual’s characteristics and/or national or regime-type contexts. This thesis instead seeks explanations for individuals’ varying attitudes towards the welfare state at the level of local contexts (municipalities). Sweden is used as a case for testing whether there are such contextual effects. The general aim is to find out whether social, political, and institutional aspects of local context influence the attitudes of individuals.Since the general aim of this thesis is to examine how background characteristics of individuals and characteristics of local contexts simultaneously act in shaping individuals’ attitudes, I use multilevel modelling in order to handle individual-level and contextual-level data simultaneously. Latent-class analysis (LCA) is also employed in the analyses to explore the patterning of variables. This is mainly done in order to create dependent variables and to distinguish between categories of municipalities sharing similar characteristics. The data consist of Swedish survey data, which have been complemented by municipal-level data.The findings indicate that the social and political context of municipalities can matter for individuals’ attitude formation. Variation across municipalities in terms of the prevalence of social problems and risks seems to influence how individuals view the welfare state. Local municipal contexts characterized by many social problems and risks tend to be associated with more welfare state friendly attitudes among the local inhabitants, after taking individual-level determinants into account…


The institutional context
The social context
Contextual analysis
Welfare state attitudes: individual-level explanations
The Swedish case
Previous research into municipalities
The methodological approach
Summary of the papers

Author: Johansson Sevä, Ingemar

Source: Umea University

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