Dividing the pie in the eco-social state: Exploring the relationship between public support for environmental and welfare policies

Niklas Jakobsson, Raya Muttarak, Mi Ah Schoyen

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43 Citations (Scopus)
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Recent theoretical literature in social policy argued that climate change posed a new risk to the states and called for transformation from a traditional welfare state to an ‘eco’ state. From a theoretical point of view, different welfare regimes may manage environmental/climate change risks in a similar way to social risks. However, not much has been done to explore the issue empirically. To this end, this paper aims to investigate public attitudes towards environmental and traditional welfare policies given that environmental change is a new social risk the welfare states have to address. Do individuals that care for one area also care for the other? That is, do the preferences in these two policy spheres complement or substitute one another? We test these hypotheses both at the individual- and country-level, using data from 14 countries included in all three waves (1993, 2000, and 2010) of the environmental module in the International Social Survey Programme. Specifically, we investigate the relationship between attitudes towards income redistribution (indicator of support for welfare policy) and willingness to pay for environmental protection (indicator of support for environmental policy). Our findings suggest that attitudes in the two areas are substitutes in the total sample, but that the relationship is very small and only statistically significant in some specifications. When we explore country differentials, we observe clear heterogeneity in the relationship, which can be explained by differences in political and historical contexts across countries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-339
JournalEnvironment and Planning C: Politics and Space
Issue number2
Early online date1 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


  • Cross-national
  • environmental attitudes
  • welfare states
  • inequality
  • willingness to pay

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