Bernhard Ebbinghaus, Elias Naumann, Claus Wendt
Not quite united against reforms: Pension reform positions of British, French, and German social groups

11th Annual ESPAnet conference "Social Policy and Economic Development", Poznan University of Economics, 05. bis 07. September 2013

This paper seeks to revisit the thesis of the popularity of welfare states and the widespread support against pension reforms. Our analysis explores to what degree public opinion defends the status quo or is willing to support retrenchment-oriented reforms. Our first research question investigates whether particular social classes, the retirees, and trade union members as well as party supporters differ in their overall welfare value-orientation and their pension-specific attitudes. We also address a second research question: can cross-national variations in general welfare value-orientations and pension-specific attitudes be explained by particular institutional variations in these welfare systems, party systems and interest organization systems? We therefore analyse two major dimensions, i.e. (social) redistribution and extensity (scope of government), using the 2008 European Social Survey. We compare three countries with different pension systems, organized interests, and party systems: Britain (UK), France, and Germany. We relate the cross-national differences in attitudes to variations in welfare regime in general (Liberal vs. Conservative) and pension systems in particular (Bismarck vs. Beveridge). Our results show more pronounced social differences in respect to welfare value-orientations but also cross-national differences in pension-specific attitudes toward redistribution. Finally, political affiliations show more social and cross-national variations than social classes, indicating that ideological alignment are more pronounced than social class.