What are the political consequences of long-run income stagnation and decline for welfare states across advanced capitalist democracies (ACDs)? We argue that long-run income falls lead to a political backlash against the taxes necessary to fund welfare states. We develop a theoretical framework linking people’s declining income to their lower support for taxes that fund social insurance and consumption smoothing, which both shift income from one’s present to one’s future, and redistribution, which shifts income from oneself to others. We test linkages between economic decline and tax preferences on panel survey data from the United States, repeated cross-section survey data in Canada and Japan. Matching unique information on income changes with cross-national micro-level data on both policy preferences and electoral behaviour, we further show that income declines increase individual preferences for - and electoral behaviour rewarding - spending cuts. The long-run evolution of income therefore plays a crucial role in the politics of welfare states across ACDs.

About the speaker

David Weisstanner is an assistant professor at the Department of Health Sciences and Medicine at the University of Lucerne. Previously, he was an assistant professor at the Department of Political Science at Aarhus University. Between 2018 and 2021, he was a postdoctoral researcher at the Department for Social Policy and Intervention at the University of Oxford. He has also been an associate member at Nuffield College and the Institute for New Economic Thinking at the University of Oxford since 2018. He obtained his PhD at the University of Bern in 2018.

David’s research focuses on topics related to comparative social policy in advanced democracies. Specifically, he is interested in the political determinants and consequences of socio-economic inequality, health inequality, social policy preferences, and electoral behaviour. He teaches courses on health and social policy, health inequality, and Swiss health policy.


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