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Who Wants Demanding Active Labour Market Policies? Public Attitudes towards Policies that put Pressure on the Unemployed


The literature addressing attitudes about social policy and the welfare state has been telling us for decades that welfare interventions are supported by those individuals who benefit from a specific measure. The diffusion of ‘demanding’ active labour market policies (ALMPs), however, challenges this relationship. Using a novel dataset, I analyse which individual- and country-level factors explain public support for demanding ALMPs in five Western European countries. The results show that labour market risk and ideological orientation influence public attitudes towards these ALMPs. Thereby, unemployed individuals sympathising with the political right are more strongly opposed to demanding measures than employed individuals with the same political preferences. Moreover, aggregate support is found to be correlated with the country's ALMP legacy, varying from high levels in Germany and the UK to low levels in Denmark and France. The findings suggest that most ALMPs are in fact implemented despite the opposition of their beneficiaries.

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