Chapter 1: Citizens, policy feedback, and European welfare states
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In democracies, citizensí attitudes and behaviour should influence future public policies. In practice, however, the reverse may also be true: attitudes and behaviour can be results of past policies. This book brings together a group of political scientists and sociologists developing and testing propositions about such policy feedback in European welfare states. The welfare state domain has long been of great significance in these countries; it has occupied roughly half of state expenditures, generated visible political conflict, and been clearly present in many peopleís lives. Equally important, of course, there are well-documented and long-standing country differences in spending patterns, benefit generosity, and redistributive impact, such as those captured by terms like welfare state ìeffortî (Wilensky 1975) or ìregimesî (Esping-Andersen 1990). In fact, as we shall see, one of the earliest questions asked by comparative research on citizens and the welfare state had to do with possible feedback effects of such long-standing, slowly accumulating policy legacies (e.g. Coughlin 1980).

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