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5. The Relative Deservingness of the Unemployed in the Eyes of the European Public

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Chapter Summary

As many European countries face a financial and economic crisis, rising unemployment rates call for more means to be redistributed to the unemployed. The economic crisis also puts a fiscal strain on public means, and therefore on welfare state resources. This increasing scarcity urges a re-examination of the basic welfare question of who should get what share of public means and why. Public opinion research has shown that the general public answers this question in relation to the perceived deservingness of the different welfare target groups. Perceptions of deservingness are based on a number of criteria that people apply: the level of need; poor people's control over, or responsibility for, their neediness; the identity of the poor; poor people's attitude towards support; and the extent of reciprocation by the poor. In national and international studies the unemployed as a group are found to be considered as less deserving.

Keywords: economic crisis; European public; relative deservingness; unemployment rates; welfare target groups



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