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Government quality, egalitarianism, and attitudes to taxes and social spending: a European comparison

Svallfors, Stefan | 2013

European Political Science Review Vol 5 (2013), pp 363-80, First published online July 16, 2012, doi:10.1017/S175577391200015X.

The paper analyses how perceptions of government quality – in terms of impartiality and efficiency – impact on attitudes to taxes and social spending. It builds on data from the European Social Survey 2008 from 29 European countries. The paper shows a large degree of congruence between expert-based judgments and the general public’s perceptions of the quality of government. It also shows that the quality of government has a clear, independent effect on attitudes to taxes and spending, so that people who perceive institutions as efficient and fair want higher taxes and spending. But government quality also conditions the impact of egalitarianism on attitudes to taxes and spending: in high-quality-of-government egalitarianism has a clearly stronger impact on these attitudes.

It is concluded that government quality is an important and so far neglected factor in explaining attitudes to welfare policies.

European Political Science Review Vol 5 (2013), pp 363-80, First published online July 16, 2012, doi:10.1017/S175577391200015X.

The paper analyses how perceptions of government quality – in terms of impartiality and efficiency – impact on attitudes to taxes and social spending. It builds on data from the European Social Survey 2008 from 29 European countries. The paper shows a large degree of congruence between expert-based judgments and the general public’s perceptions of the quality of government. It also shows that the quality of government has a clear, independent effect on attitudes to taxes and spending, so that people who perceive institutions as efficient and fair want higher taxes and spending. But government quality also conditions the impact of egalitarianism on attitudes to taxes and spending: in high-quality-of-government egalitarianism has a clearly stronger impact on these attitudes.

It is concluded that government quality is an important and so far neglected factor in explaining attitudes to welfare policies.