National Identity and Support for the Welfare State

37 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009 Last revised: 18 Feb 2014

See all articles by Richard Johnston

Richard Johnston

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Keith G. Banting

Queen's University; European University Institute - Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies (RSCAS)

Will Kymlicka

Queen's University

Stuart N. Soroka

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - College of Literature, Science & the Arts

Date Written: 2009

Abstract

This paper examines the role of national identity in sustaining public support for the welfare state. Liberal nationalist theorists argue that social justice will always be easier to achieve in states with strong national identities which, they contend, can both mitigate opposition to redistribution among high-income earners and reduce any corroding effects of ethnic diversity resulting from immigration. We test these propositions with Canadian data from the Equality, Security and Community survey. We conclude that national identity does increase support for the welfare state among affluent majority Canadians, and that it helps to protect the welfare state from toxic effects of cultural suspicion. However, we also find that identity plays a narrower role than existing theories of liberal nationalism suggest, and that the mechanisms through which it works are different. This leads us to suggest an alternative theory of the relationship between national identity and the welfare state, one that suggests that the relationship is highly contingent, reflecting distinctive features of the history and national narratives of each country. National identity may not have any general tendency to strengthen support for redistribution, but it may do so for those aspects of the welfare state seen as having played a particularly important role in building the nation, or in enabling it to overcome particular challenges or crises.

Keywords: national identity,redistribution

Suggested Citation

Johnston, Richard and Banting, Keith G. and Kymlicka, Will and Soroka, Stuart N., National Identity and Support for the Welfare State (2009). APSA 2009 Toronto Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1450324

Richard Johnston

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Keith G. Banting (Contact Author)

Queen's University ( email )

Kingston, Ontario K7L 3N6
Canada
613-533-3094 (Phone)
613-533-2135 (Fax)

European University Institute - Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies (RSCAS) ( email )

Villa La Fonte, via delle Fontanelle 18
50016 San Domenico di Fiesole
Florence, Florence 50014
Italy

Will Kymlicka

Queen's University ( email )

Kingston, Ontario K7L 3N6
Canada

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.willkymlicka.ca/

Stuart N. Soroka

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - College of Literature, Science & the Arts ( email )

Ann Arbor, MI
United States

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