Welfare attitudes in a crisis: How COVID exceptionalism undermined greater solidarity

Robert de Vries, Ben Baumberg Geiger, Lisa Scullion, Kate Summers, Daniel Edmiston, Jo Ingold, David Robertshaw, David Young

Producció científica: Contribució a una revistaArticleRecercaAvaluat per experts


COVID-19 had the potential to dramatically increase public support for welfare. It was a time of apparent increased solidarity, of apparently deserving claimants, and of increasingly widespread exposure to the benefits system. However, there are also reasons to expect the opposite effect: an increase in financial strain fostering austerity and self-interest, and thermostatic responses to increasing welfare generosity. In this paper, we investigate the effects of the pandemic on attitudes towards working-age unemployment benefits in the UK using a unique combination of data sources: (i) temporally fine-grained data on attitudinal change over the course of the pandemic; and (ii) a novel nationally representative survey contrasting attitudes towards pandemic-era and pre-pandemic claimants (including analysis of free-text responses). Our results show that the pandemic prompted little change in UK welfare attitudes. However, we also find that COVID-era unemployment claimants were perceived as substantially more deserving than those claiming prior to the pandemic. This contrast suggests a strong degree of 'COVID exceptionalism' - with COVID claimants seen as categorically different from conventional claimants, muting the effect of the pandemic on welfare attitudes overall.
Idioma originalEnglish
Pàgines (de-a)1-20
Nombre de pàgines20
RevistaJournal of Social Policy
Data online anticipadad’oct. 2023
Estat de la publicacióPublicada - 4 d’oct. 2023


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