Understanding public attitudes towards Social Security
There has been very little research on why individuals hold different attitudes toward Social Security. In this article we integrate social location theory and political predisposition theory to provide a framework of explanation and test these theories using a unique sample from the 1998 General Social Survey. Our multivariate results reveal that social structural positions along the lines of race, gender, class and age play a more important role than political predispositions in explain-ing individual differences in support for the current Social Security system against privatisation. Political party affiliation also partly contributes to variation in support for Social Security, but political ideology does not have a significant effect. Our results suggest that with regard to support for Social Security, primary consideration must rest on social structural positions. Racial minorities, women, the poor and the elderly tend to dislike a drastic change in the current Social Security system, and Social Security reform ought to pay attention to their concerns. Our robust finding of a positive relationship between age and support for Social Security also challenges much of the established knowledge, pointing to an intergenerational discord over Social Security. It is also important to differentiate among social welfare programmes in order to uncover the real determinants of public attitudes towards them. © 2006 The Author(s), Journal compilation © 2006 Blackwell Publishing Ltd and the International Journal of Social Welfare.
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