Projekt ESS22-23

Misperceptions about the welfare state

Period: Jan. 2024 - Dec. 2027
Amount: Euro 341k
Project coordinator: Christian Koch, co-PI: Jean-Robert Tyran

Abstract: The welfare state is large and complex in modern societies. Its functioning is therefore difficult to grasp for citizens. Public support for the welfare state and public acceptance of its policies hinge on citizens’ perceptions – including their misperception – of the welfare state. The project focuses on the malleability of perceptions of the welfare state by implementing a randomized information intervention and to allow for a detailed analysis of heterogeneity in the population by combining data from a survey with register data. More specifically, we use an online survey from a representative sample of the adult Austrian voting population to elicit the effects of information interventions on the perception of factual characteristics, the perception of behavioral effects, and on fairness perceptions with a special emphasis on immigration- and health-related aspects of the welfare state. The combination of register and survey data allows us to provide a detailed picture of who knows and thinks what about the welfare state in Austria and whose perceptions can be swayed. We implement both positive and negative informational interventions to evaluate whether one-sided information campaigns can strengthen or undermine the support for the welfare state, and to study which groups in the voting population are most receptive to such information.

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