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Following or leading public opinion? Social security policy and public attitudes since 1997

Hills, John (2002) Following or leading public opinion? Social security policy and public attitudes since 1997. Fiscal Studies, 23 (4). pp. 539-558. ISSN 1475-5890

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Identification Number: 10.1111/j.1475-5890.2002.tb00072.x


This paper examines New Labour's social security and related policies since 1997 in the light of evidence on public attitudes. The list of measures where policies have been in or have come into line with public attitudes is much longer than the list of measures where policies have been out of line with public attitudes or appear to have led them. One interpretation is that policy has been led by opinion surveys and focus groups, with opportunities lost to take more radical action and then persuade people of the need and justification for it. An alternative would be that policy has navigated with the grain of some of the more progressive parts of public opinion to achieve a result that has carried the public with it, in a way that would not have been sustainable if there had simply been an increase in the generosity of an unreformed social security system.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2002 Institute for Fiscal Studies
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
H Social Sciences > HJ Public Finance
JEL classification: I - Health, Education, and Welfare > I3 - Welfare and Poverty > I38 - Government Policy; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
Sets: Departments > Social Policy
Collections > Economists Online
Research centres and groups > Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines (STICERD)
Research centres and groups > Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE)
Date Deposited: 09 Apr 2008 13:33
Last Modified: 01 Oct 2010 08:52

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