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Public attitudes towards the poor in the South Caucasus: a matter of solidarity and conditionality

Dimitri Gugushvili (Centre for Sociological Research, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, Belgium)

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Article publication date: 11 June 2018

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore public attitudes towards poor people in the South Caucasian countries.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is based on an analysis of data from the tenth round of the Caucasus Barometer survey, one of the most reliable sources of public opinion data in the region.

Findings

The majority of the population in Azerbaijan and Georgia would consent to paying higher taxes or reducing public services if their governments used the extra resources to provide cash assistance to more poor people, but in Armenia the level of solidarity is considerably lower. However, the majority in each of the countries supports assistance being conditional on beneficiaries actively searching for work. In contrast to conventional wisdom, some better-off groups are more in favour of supporting the poor than those who face a higher risk of poverty. The author hypothesises that this may be driven by self-interest, as in relative terms the welfare sacrifices required for financing the extension of schemes might be higher for the vulnerable than for the better-off.

Originality/value

This paper is the first to provide a comparative analysis of public attitudes towards vulnerable groups in the South Caucasus. It also contributes to the scarce literature on perceived welfare deservingness of social assistance recipients and public preferences for imposing conditionality on them. In addition, it presents a strong case for using more comprehensive questions to construct measurements of people’s welfare attitudes than those commonly used.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The author would like to thank Professor Wim van Oorschot for his detailed feedback on the draft version of the paper, and three anonymous reviewers for their useful comments and suggestions.

Citation

Gugushvili, D. (2018), "Public attitudes towards the poor in the South Caucasus: a matter of solidarity and conditionality", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 38 No. 5-6, pp. 426-443. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSSP-12-2017-0164

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited