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Attitudes Toward Intergenerational Redistribution in the Welfare State

Katrin Prinzen (2015)


Which motivations explain attitudes toward intergenerational redistribution? This study presents two perspectives. The first one is demographic aging where individuals’ attitudes are influenced by short- and long-term self-interest. The second perspective is socialization into a certain institutional context where people internalize the reciprocity and the deservingness norms. Besides investigating the impact of these motivations, the empirical analysis assesses their relative importance for explaining attitudes toward intergenerational redistribution. The ordinary least-squares regression draws on data of the “Attitudes Toward The Welfare State” survey that was conducted in 2008 in Germany. The study investigates the working age group’s attitude toward relative governmental spending for older people. The empirical analysis yields that people are motivated by long-term self-interest and hold the state responsible to protect them from the perceived future risk of old-age poverty. Also, norms of reciprocity and of deservingness are important to support intergenerational redistribution, whereas the latter seems to be the relatively most important motivation. We can take this as a sign of intergenerational cohesion that is relevant against the background of accelerating demographic aging and resulting pressure on institutions of intergenerational redistribution.