Three Faces of the State: Protection, Punishment and Investment

An aerial view of a HMP prison taken from a helicopter in the United Kingdom. The old grey Her Majesties Prison has fences and barbed wire preventing the escape of the jails inmates

The relationship between education, welfare, and punishment differ across advanced democracies.

Nordic nations devote substantial resources to both protecting individuals against income shocks and investing in the skills of citizens, while maintaining less punitive criminal justice systems.

Other nations, such as the US and Canada, devote substantial resources to punishment, and to a lesser degree education, but with more restrictive welfare states.

A third group, in Continental and Southern Europe, are blessed with more extensive welfare systems, but historically have limited higher and pre-primary education provision as well as only moderately punitive penal systems.

These patterns of spending do not reflect crime rates and demographic structures. They are the result of policy choices to invest in some areas and not others. In surveys, voters tend to support spending on all three areas – crime and punishment, education and welfare – giving little possibility for researchers to understand the trade-offs citizens make.

Three Faces of the State: Protection, Punishment and Investment will address this gap in understanding, using UK and Swedish surveys to investigate spending policy preferences from a nominal budget. This investigation will form part of a longer research looking into the way citizens prioritise different types of policy interventions to solve social and economic problems.

Principal Investigator

Professor Jane Gingrich


Elle Pfeffer


John Fell Fund

Project Start / End

Jul 2020 - Jan 2021

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