Crises precipitate strong fiscal responses by government – sometimes toward austerity, other times toward renewed social spending. This variation in approaches to crisis handling has the potential to highlight factors that drive public opinion toward government interventions that may be quite different from those in non-crisis times. This study aims to discuss the aforementioned issues.
This article brings together theories of government policymaking in crises, policy responsiveness and economic voting to assess how personal financial (egocentric) concerns and/or national financial (sociotropic) concerns may influence opinions toward government handling of direct financial supports in a crisis and, more generally, opinions toward social policy interventions. The authors assess this dynamic in the Canadian context using original national survey data collected in the initial stage of the pandemic-based crisis in June and July of 2020 (N = 1290).
The authors find strong evidence in support of sociotropic concerns shaping government approval and support for greater social policy interventions, but limited evidence to support egocentric concerns, suggesting that social policy attitudes may be more insulated from personal factors than anticipated.
The authors’ findings suggest that crises may prompt enhanced support for interventionist social policy measures that may lack broad-based support in non-crisis times.
The authors’ findings speak to the ongoing discussion around the possibility for crises to function as policy windows for enhanced social spending and for entrenching targeted financial supports for vulnerable individuals.
The authors acknowledge the support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, grant #435-2021-1034.
Lawlor, A., Girard, T., Wodnicki, P. and Goode, M. (2022), "Crisis management: personal financial well-being and public attitudes toward government intervention", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSSP-07-2022-0184
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