Beyond Complex Welfare Systems: Citizens’ Opinion towards Basic Income proposals Compared

Stadelmann-Steffen, Isabelle; Dermont, Clau (8 September 2017). Beyond Complex Welfare Systems: Citizens’ Opinion towards Basic Income proposals Compared (Unpublished). In: ECPR General Conference. Oslo, Norway. 06.09.-09.09.2017.

Full text not available from this repository. (Request a copy)

Today’s welfare states consist of multifarious instruments and provisions for the social protection of people, whereby differences exist not only between countries, but also between programs (e.g., unemployment insurance, social assistance, pension systems). However, these complex welfare systems are under pressure. On the one hand, recent decades have been considered as the “silver age” in welfare state policy, characterized by the need to retrench and restructure the welfare state in response to new social and financial demands. Moreover, welfare state reforms have been influenced by a social investment logic focusing on the generation of work incentives and activation. A more fundamental reform of the welfare state that has recently gained in attention is a basic income scheme. Most often, such a transformation of the social welfare system has been proposed by leftist/progressive actors calling for independence of welfare provision from the economy in a time where jobs will be replaced by automatized processes. However, basic income schemes have also been discovered by liberal forces as a means to replace existent welfare programs with a system that is aimed to lower public expenditures and foster work incentives.

But what do citizens think about the idea of a basic income scheme and in how far are citizens’ perceptions dependent on the framing (as a liberal or leftist/progressive program) and the exact design of such a scheme? We investigate these questions empirically – by implementing conjoint experiments – in two countries, where the introduction of a basic income scheme has recently been discussed most intensely. In Switzerland, citizens in June 2016 rejected a popular initiative that proposed a progressive form of an unconditional basic income. In Finland, the center-right government has been pushing a liberal version of a basic income. In January 2017 a national pilot scheme has begun that provides a guaranteed sum of €560 to 2’000 unemployed Finns aged 25-58.

Comparing these two cases enables us to gain insights on citizens’ preferences regarding basic income schemes in different welfare state contexts but also under differently framed public debates. This is relevant in so far as such a fundamental reorganization of the welfare system would not be possible without at least some popular support. Furthermore, from a methodological perspective, we contribute to recent developments to apply conjoint analyses in welfare research and more precisely, how this tool can be used to assess citizens’ preferences for policy solutions in different contexts.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


03 Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Institute of Political Science

UniBE Contributor:

Stadelmann, Isabelle, Dermont, Clau


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 320 Political science




Isabelle Stadelmann

Date Deposited:

14 May 2018 14:19

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:12

Additional Information:

Panel "Welfare states in the 21st century: basic income and social investment"


Actions (login required)

Edit item Edit item
Provide Feedback