A study of public attitudes to welfare in the UK with a comparative European element: Does housing tenure affect support for social security benefits?

Smith, Victoria Rose (2019) A study of public attitudes to welfare in the UK with a comparative European element: Does housing tenure affect support for social security benefits? PhD thesis, University of Lincoln.

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A study of public attitudes to welfare in the UK with a comparative European element: Does housing tenure affect support for social security benefits?
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Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
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Abstract

This thesis explores the relationship between public attitudes to social security benefits and home ownership. It conceptualises housing as a key aspect of a person’s welfare and seeks to understand how tenure, and in particular the accumulation of assets through home ownership, influences public attitudes to monetary welfare benefits.

My research investigates the claims of previous studies (such as Kemeny (1981, 2001, 2004) and Ansell (2014)), that countries with higher levels of home ownership have less public support for generous welfare systems. I also consider Saunders’ (1990) study which found that people had positive feelings towards home ownership and believed there to be stigma attached to social housing. I hypothesise that home ownership can be linked to attitudes to welfare benefits through home owners’ increased wealth, perceived financial security and feelings of independence that owning a home brings. I discuss problems with linking home ownership and attitudes. People do not always financially benefit from home ownership and they are not always aware of the financial value of their home.

In order to investigate this relationship, this thesis uses quantitative analysis methods. Initially this paper undertakes in depth time series analysis of British Social Attitudes survey data. It then conducts comparative analysis of 24 European countries, using standardised data from countries’ official data collection sources (such as the European Social Survey and Eurostat). This allows for the exploration of home ownership levels and tenure mix in different European countries and a comparison of their levels of trust, engagement with politics and attitudes to welfare. In the third chapter of analysis this thesis returns to the UK to use the British Household Panel Survey to carry out a longitudinal analysis of attitudes over a 20-year period.

This thesis finds that home owners hold the most negative attitudes towards benefits claimants in the UK. In addition to this, the analysis shows that social renters are highly supportive of redistributive policies and are more likely to think that welfare benefits should be increased. Similarly, it finds that across Europe people living in areas with higher numbers of social tenants are more likely to be supportive of generous social security systems. However, when comparing tenure and attitudes in Europe it is not found that people in areas of high home ownership hold particularly negative views towards benefits claimants compared to people living in areas with many private renters.

Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Social & Political Sciences
ID Code:44275
Deposited On:09 Mar 2021 13:43

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