Explaining variation in support for Basic Income
Building on my previous research published in the Basic Income Studies Journal in 2019, I carried a more systematic investigation of the Political Economy of individual level support for the basic income in Europe which has is now out in online first in the Journal of European Social Policy. In the process of exploring why different individual characeristics correlated with support for a BI, I became interested in why different parts of the Left are more or less supportive of a BI. This led me to work with Prof Hanna Schwander on different strands of left wing thought and how they may be associated with BI support. This has been accepted at Journal of International and Comparative Social Policy.
“The Political Economy of individual level support for the basic income in Europe” Journal of European Social Policy. ABSTRACT: There is a long-standing debate in academic and policymaking circles about the normative merits and economic effects of a universal basic income (UBI). However, existing literature does not sufficiently address the question of which factors are associated with individual support for a UBI. While a large literature in political economy has focused on individual preferences for existing welfare state benefits, it has not analysed the case of a UBI. Using the eighth wave of the European Social Survey (ESS), this article seeks to remedy this gap by analysing individual support for a UBI in 21 European countries. The findings from logistic regression analyses with country fixed effects are partly consistent with the expectations of previous social policy and political economy literatures. Younger, low-income, left-leaning individuals and the unemployed are more likely to support a UBI. Individuals with positive views of benefit recipients and/or high trust in political institutions are also more supportive, while anti-immigration attitudes are associated with lower support. By contrast, the patterns across occupations are mixed and male respondents appear slightly more supportive. Trade union membership is not statistically significant, perhaps because of contradictory effects: unions typically support new welfare state policies but they also have a key role in many existing welfare state schemes and may worry about individuals’ attachment to the labour market. At the cross-national level, support tends to be higher where benefit activation is more pronounced and unemployment benefits less generous. These results suggest one possible reason why countries with high support for a UBI have not introduced it: the mixed support among the left means a pro-UBI coalition has to draw on right-wing voters who may support it only with lower taxes and/or extensive replacement of welfare state benefits, which in turn may further alienate parts of the left.
“The Left and Universal Basic Income: The role of ideology in individual support” (with Hanna Schwander), Journal of International and Comparative Social Policy. ABSTRACT: Few studies analyse individual support for Universal Basic Income (UBI). This article theorises and explores empirically the relationship between different strands of left ideology and support for UBI across European countries. We delineate three types of concerns about capitalism: ‘Labourist Left’ worry about exploitation; ‘Libertarian Left’ about repression; and ‘Social Investment Left’ about inefficiencies. Contrary to expectations, our results based on data from the European Social Survey suggest that having high concerns about exploitation is positively correlated with support for UBI, whereas repression concerns are negatively correlated with support. In line with our hypothesis, left-leaning individuals with efficiency concerns are more likely to support UBI. Our findings call for more detailed surveys and further research on the different ideologies within the Left and how these relate to variation in support for UBI which would shed further light on the resulting potential coalition dynamics for a larger-scale introduction of UBI.
Political Economy of labour market dualisation and liberalization
Two articles on the political economy of labour market dualization and liberalization have also just come out. The first deals with the different ways to test the role of labour market dualization in shaping social policy preferences and is part of a special issue on the wider importance of dualization for political science, with contributions from David Rueda, Achim Kermmerling, Hanna Schwander, Silja Hausermann, Philip Rehm and Marius Busemeyer (and more). The second article (joint with Marco Simoni) tries to understand the patterns of labour market liberalization reforms in Europe since the 1980s. It argues this is the outcome of complex interactions between governments, partisanship, trade unions and the state of the Economy.
“The political consequences of labour market dualization: Labour market status, occupational unemployment and policy preferences” Political Science Research and Methods. ABSTRACT: This article explores empirically how different types of labour market inequality affect policy preferences in post-industrial societies. I argue that the two main conceptualisations of labour market vulnerability identified in the insider-outsider literature are complementary: Labour market risks are shaped by both labour market status-whether an individual is unemployed, in a temporary or permanent contract-and occupational unemployment-whether an individual is in an occupation with high or low unemployment. As a result, both status and occupation are important determinants of individual labour market policy preferences. In what follows, I first briefly conceptualise the link between labour market divides, risks and policy preferences and then use cross-national survey data to investigate the determinants of preferences.
“Labour Market Liberalization and the Rise of Dualism in Europe as the Interplay between Government, Trade Unions and the Economy” (with Marco Simoni), Social Policy & Administration. ABSTRACT: Why have labour market reforms varied so much across European countries in the 30 years preceding the economic crisis? We argue that the degree of liberalization over time in each country depends on the interaction between governments’ partisan leaning, the strength of trade unions and the economic problem-load pushing governments to adopt distinct labour market reform strategies. Building on existing literature, we interpret ‘dualizing’ labour market reforms as weaker forms of liberalization and test our argument on the cross‐national variation in over 200 labour market reforms carried out in 14 western European countries between 1985 and 2007. Our empirical results show that governments are less likely to liberalize if they face a strong union movement and the economic problem-load is low. However, even in countries with strong unions, opposition may not always manage to block change. First, as unemployment becomes more severe, unions’ ability to reduce the likelihood of liberalization strongly decreases. Second, trade unions often do not manage to prevent liberalization advanced by social democratic governments. Third, governments can devise three (non-rival) strategies to deflect opposition: (1) they can re-regulate parts of the labour market to protect certain workers from liberalization; (2) generous unemployment benefits can cushion the costs of liberalization, thereby increasing its likelihood; and (3) they can carry out two‐tier reforms to insulate insider (unionized) workers employed in permanent contracts, which limits union opposition. By identifying the complex interactions between variables that explain variation in labour market liberalization across European countries, this article contributes to our understanding of the evolution of European political economy.
Economic insecurity, anti-immigration attitudes and far right party support in Europe
Finally, two papers on the rise of far right parties in Europe were also published. They both deal, from different angles, with whether and how exactly concerns about immigration shape far right party support.
“‘Birds of a feather’? Assessing the prevalence of anti-immigration attitudes among the far-right electorate”, (with Daphne Halikiopoulou and Daniel Stockemer) Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. ABSTRACT: This article focuses on the prevalence of anti-immigration attitudes among the far-right electorate. Drawing on the distinction between the predictive power of immigration concerns, and the question of how widespread these concerns are among the far-right voter pool, we proceed in two steps. First, we assess the extent to which anti-immigration attitudes are a necessary condition for voting far right; and second we examine whether far right voters with different levels of anti-immigration attitudes exhibit similar individual and attitudinal characteristics. Using data from the 8 th wave of the European Social Survey (ESS) we find that, surprisingly, anti-immigration attitudes are not a necessary condition for voting for the far right as approximately one third of far-right voters have no concerns over immigration. We further show that far-right voters with different levels of immigration concerns have different profiles when it comes to other predictors of the far right-vote including ideological affinity, attachment to the EU and government satisfaction. Our contribution is significant as we suggest that there are different routes to voting for the far right by groups with different grievances, including non-immigration related.
“When economic and cultural interests align: the anti-immigration voter coalitions driving far right party success in Europe” (with Daphne Halikiopoulou) European Political Science Review. ABSTRACT: This article contests the view that the strong positive correlation between anti-immigration attitudes and far right party success constitutes evidence in support of the cultural grievance thesis and against the economic grievance thesis. We argue that far right party success depends on the ability to mobilise a coalition of interests between their core supporters, i.e. voters with cultural grievances over immigration and the, often, larger group of voters with economic grievances over immigration. Using individual level data from 8 rounds of the European Social Survey (ESS), our empirical analysis shows that while cultural concerns over immigration are a stronger predictor of far right party support, those who dislike the impact of immigration on the economy are important to the far right in numerical terms. Taken together, our findings suggest that economic grievances over immigration remain pivotal within the context of the transnational cleavage.