Fairness, Risk, and the Welfare State

The welfare state was imagined as a safety net for citizens—like this one underneath a wooden bridge.

The welfare state was designed to provide a safety net for all, regardless of background. Yet a growing body of research indicates that though the majority of people reject inequalities that are the outcome of luck and circumstances, they are willing to accept income differences based on effort and choice. So what kind of welfare state do people support, and why?

 Led by David Rueda, this project aims to answer three questions: 

  • Do people differ in their views of which welfare system they deem to be more fair?
  • How do people react to different reasons for different levels of income, when choosing the welfare system they would prefer to live in?
  • Are people willing to trade some of their own material well-being for a 'fairer' welfare system?


Principal Investigator

Professor F. David Rueda


Verena Fetscher (University of Hamburg)


British Academy

The Leverhulme Trust


British Academy/Leverhulme Small Grants

Project Start / End

Apr 2020 - Apr 2021

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