How Popular Deservingness Perceptions Mediate the Link Between Unemployment Policies and their Public Support. In Laenen, T., et al. (Eds.), Welfare State Legitimacy in Times of Crisis and Austerity: Between Continuity and Change. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.
Abstract: This book chapter examines how unemployment policies, and their degree of selectivity, generosity and conditionality in particular, feed back into popular deservingness perceptions concerning the unemployed. Using data from the European Social Survey, our results show that comparatively generous and unconditional unemployment policies fuel the perception that most unemployed people have a relatively good standard of living and are not actively looking for a job. Europeans who hold such deservingness beliefs also prove to be considerably less supportive of government responsibility to ensure a decent standard of living to the unemployed, net of their social-structural background and ideological orientations. These findings suggest that one of the most often made policy recommendations by international institutions such as the IMF and the EU, i.e. to make unemployment benefits less attractive by lowering the benefit levels and increasing the work requirements could potentially, and perhaps quite counterintuitively, boost public support for unemployment provision in the long run.