Constitutions and Public Support for Welfare Policies


  • *Direct correspondence to Tetsuya Matsubayashi, Department of Political Science, University of North Texas, 160 Wooten Hall, 1155 Union Circle #305340, Denton, TX 76203-5340 〈〉. The data analyzed here, appendices, and a report containing supplemental analyses are available from the corresponding author. The authors thank Kim Hill and Mathieu Turgeon for their helpful comments.


Objectives. This research explores how constitutional designs affect a cross-national gap in public support for welfare policies. We contend that the constitution's statements regarding the citizens' right to receive welfare services constrain elite discourse on social welfare, which in turn exerts a strong influence on the level of mass support for and ambivalence over welfare policies.

Methods. Survey data from 15 consolidated democracies merged with country-level data are analyzed using a hierarchical linear model.

Results. Empirical analysis shows that citizens residing in countries with a more liberal constitution show more supportive and less ambivalent attitudes toward welfare policies.

Conclusions. Our findings suggest that the political principles reflected in national constitutions explain the cross-national gap in mass support for welfare policies.