Jul 20, 2019 | Updated: 08:54 AM EDT

Welfare May Actually Encourage Recipients to Work, New Study Suggests

Apr 01, 2015 04:07 PM EDT


Science and politics don't always mix. One is inherently subjective, what someone believes is best for society, both socially and economically. The other is about questions, answers, data, and experiments. Still they often inform each other, for better or worse. We can occasionally use science and statistics to better understand society, and perhaps figure out the best course of action.

One of the many major political issues is whether or not the state, that is the government, should provide welfare. Or more complexity, how much should be spent on welfare for the unemployed or the otherwise unable to work. Some believe that making welfare to appealing will create a culture of dependency. If it's socially and economically feasible to live off government welfare, why work? While for some personality types, that notion makes sense on a basic psychological level, it's not the entire picture.

In fact, a recently published European study may suggest the exact opposite. (via ScienceDaily) It was a survey that asked for agreement or disagreement to this statement; "I would enjoy having a paid job even if I did not need the money." The question was asked to 19,000 participants, across 18 European countries.

The trend they found was that the more a country spent on welfare, the more a population was likely to agree to the statement. Norway, which spends the most on welfare per capita in the surveyed countries, had an agreement rate of 80%. On the opposite end of the spectrum, only about 40% of participants from Estonia agreed, and Estonia spends the least on welfare. The UK was in the middle, both in terms of welfare spending and agreement to the statement at 60%.

They also found a similar trend of agreement in the countries that have the most government-based programs for increasing employment. Suggesting that some intervening in the labor market can be beneficial. These countries that spend more on welfare also tend to have higher employment rates overall.

Right now we can only be speculated what causes this trend. Certain groups were found to prefer not working in high welfare states, but there will always be outliers. Some think that in general, higher welfare leads to a more positive experience of employment. Stability when unemployed may make people more confident and willing to give back to society by finding a job. We'll just have to wait and see if this survey actually changes anyone's mind. 

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