Reciprocity in welfare institutions and attitudes to free movement in EU receiving countries

Reciprocity in welfare institutions and attitudes to free movement in EU receiving countries

September 19, 2019

Working Paper

This paper analyses the determinants of public attitudes to the “free movement” of workers in the European Union. The authors add to the small but growing research literature on this issue by focusing on how the characteristics of national welfare institutions affect public attitudes to intra-EU labour mobility. More specifically, the paper explores the role of what we see as the degree of “institutional reciprocity” in national systems of social protection in explaining variations of attitudes to free movement across 12 EU Member States. The authors do not find evidence of a direct effect of institutional reciprocity on attitudes to free movement. However, they identify an interaction effect which suggests that higher degrees of institutional reciprocity in national social protection systems in general, and in unemployment insurance systems in particular, are associated with lower levels of opposition to free movement among unemployed people.

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