Journal Article

Always the third rail? Pension income and policy preferences in European democracies

Lynch, J., Myrskylä, M.
Comparative Political Studies, 42:8, 1068–1097 (2009)


Social transfer programs are thought to generate beneficiary groups who will act politically to defend "their" programs from retrenchment. But little empirical research has been conducted to either verify or disconfirm the micro foundations of this hypothesis, which lies at the heart of the "new social risks" thesis as well as many economic analyses of welfare state politics. This article tests empirically whether benefiting from public pensions leads individuals to greater support of the pension system status quo, net of other factors. It uses cross—data set imputation to combine cross-nationally comparable individual-level data on income from public pensions with political attitudes toward proposed pension reforms. The hypothesis that public pension systems create policy feedbacks of self-interested beneficiaries supporting further pension spending is not supported in any of 11 European countries in either 1992 or 2001.
Keywords: Europe, pension schemes, welfare states
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