To what extent does self-interest influence public support for an open welfare state?
To what extent does self-interest influence support for granting immigrants access to the welfare state? This is the central question of a new article published in Journal of European Social Policy, and co-authored with Daniel Degen and Wouter van der Brug. Focusing on the impact of self-interest, we compare immigrants and native citizens in their attitudes towards granting immigrants access to the welfare state. We identify three mechanisms through which self-interest can influence these attitudes: immigrant origin, socio-economic status and – for first-generation immigrants only – incorporation into the host society. We test our expectations using cross-national data from the European Social Survey round 2008. The findings suggest that self-interest is indeed one of the factors that motivate attitudes towards welfare state restrictiveness among natives and immigrants, but also point at relevant exceptions to this pattern.