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Self-Interest and Solidarity in the "Silver Age" of the Welfare State : Older People's Preferences for Youth-Oriented Social Spending in Times of Scarce Resources

Self-Interest and Solidarity in the "Silver Age" of the Welfare State : Older People's Preferences for Youth-Oriented Social Spending in Times of Scarce Resources

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LOBER, Dominik, 2017. Self-Interest and Solidarity in the "Silver Age" of the Welfare State : Older People's Preferences for Youth-Oriented Social Spending in Times of Scarce Resources [Dissertation]. Konstanz: University of Konstanz

@phdthesis{Lober2017SelfI-41001, title={Self-Interest and Solidarity in the "Silver Age" of the Welfare State : Older People's Preferences for Youth-Oriented Social Spending in Times of Scarce Resources}, year={2017}, author={Lober, Dominik}, address={Konstanz}, school={Universität Konstanz} }

2017 2017-12-21T11:52:52Z Self-Interest and Solidarity in the "Silver Age" of the Welfare State : Older People's Preferences for Youth-Oriented Social Spending in Times of Scarce Resources 2017-12-21T11:52:52Z eng Lober, Dominik In many Western countries, demographic, social, and economic developments give rise to concerns about an age cleavage concerning the welfare state. Population aging, new social risks, and constraint government budgets are likely to require trade-offs between benefit recipients, especially between age groups. Since healthcare and pensions are the most expensive parts of social spending, cutbacks are likely to affect the older population, which might unleash a generational conflict over the distribution of welfare resources.<br />Nevertheless, findings are mixed. While some critics argue that we are on a way to gerontocracy where older people will successfully defend their benefits, others point to the elderly’s intergenerational solidarity in the sense that they support spending in areas like childcare and education. However, this dissertation argues that most studies do not take into account the competitive environment of current welfare states and therefore underestimate the impact of age-based self-interest on social spending preferences and overemphasize older people’s intergenerational solidarity, respectively. But it also argues that certain norms and values are able to mitigate or even to offset the impact of self-interest.<br />Chapter 2 uses a novel dataset containing a survey experiment and highlights that preferences indeed change on grounds of the consequences of social spending in a certain area. While age-based self-interest plays only a marginal role when respondents are asked for their support for education spending, it becomes significant when education spending comes along with pension cutbacks. Moreover, the chapter shows that, contrary to political ideology, social trust mitigates the impact of agebased self-interest and increases intergenerational solidarity of the elderly.<br />Chapter 3 draws on data from the European Social Survey (2008) and the International Social Survey Programme (2006) and shows that older people prioritize elderly-oriented over youth-oriented spending. It also provides evidence that a pure focus on self-interest is oversimplifying. Although religiosity is expected to promote solidarity, the analysis finds that religious people are less supportive of youth-oriented spending. Nevertheless, religiosity mitigates the impact of self-interest on preference formation, thereby shedding new light on a largely neglected topic.<br />Finally, using data from the European Social Survey (2008) Chapter 4 indicates that older people adhere to reciprocity. However, what is relevant to older people’s support for childcare spending are not personal relationships with their adult children or their grandchildren, but their perception of the younger population on a non-familymember level. Those who think that the younger generations contribute to the society and the economy are significantly more in favor of social spending to the benefit of the youth than their rather pessimistic counterparts.<br />In sum, this dissertation emphasizes that political-economy models which focus only on the role of self-interest are not justified. Self-interest is an important factor in preference formation. However, political-sociological models considering other factors like norms and values are more suitable to explain older people’s preferences for youth-oriented social spending. Whether the current developments will result in a generational conflict remains to be seen. But this dissertation raises two points: First, policymakers cannot base their welfare reforms on intergenerational solidarity, but second, people, including the elderly, are not exclusively driven by self-interest but also by certain norms and values which foster their solidarity towards other age groups. terms-of-use Lober, Dominik

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