This article explores to what extent and how individuals' welfare state attitudes relate to their subjective assessment of the available social support. Using various sociological and sociopsychological theories the authors first provide a theoretical analysis of the micro-macro links between perceived social support (micro), social trust in support availability (macro) and public attitudes towards welfare states (micro). An empirical test based on a large cross-country dataset of 31,122 respondents in 25 European countries shows that the more welfare is provided by the state, the less of it is desired in countries where individuals have the general belief that they can rely on each other for support. Importantly, only when considered jointly, do welfare state provision and social trust in support availability become essential in explaining welfare state attitudes.

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International Sociology
Erasmus Research Institute of Management

Gërxhani, K, & Koster, F. (2012). 'I am not alone': Understanding public support for the welfare state. International Sociology, 27(6), 768–787. doi:10.1177/0268580911423060