Public attitudes to poverty and welfare, 1983-2011: analysis using British Social Attitudes data

Document type
Clery, Elizabeth; Lee, Lucy; Kunz, Sarah
NatCen Social Research
Date of publication
1 April 2013
Social Policy, Poverty Alleviation Welfare Benefits and Financial Inclusion
Social welfare
Material type

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The aim of this analysis was to explore how far patterns of change in public attitudes to poverty and welfare relate to (and may be explained by) political and economic developments and experiences, both at the individual and societal level. Focussing on long-standing measures of attitudes in these areas, analysis of data collected through the British Social Attitudes survey over the past three decades was undertaken. While expectations for future levels of poverty are far from optimistic, support for welfare spending, which can be regarded as one potential solution, is at a historical low and appears to be moving in line with political policy and rhetoric, rather than economic circumstances. Where attitudes to the welfare state and welfare recipients have changed over time, they have become more negative, with change being particularly pronounced among Labour Party supporters and the young.

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