The Social Security System as a Source for National Pride: A Cross-National Analysisof Individual and Country-Level Factors
This research considers how representations of the social security system can be a source of national pride. It aims to uncover the specific features of pride in the social security system by estimating the effects of various factors based on cross-national evidence from the International Social Survey Program – National Identity and multiple country-level measurements of social policies. The results show that the level of pride in the social security system is higher than pride in other socioeconomic achievements and has higher variance at the aggregated country level. The higher variance is due to the country-specific objective characteristics of the social sphere, especially those directly related to material well-being, and also to the expectations formed by the past: the socialist legacy negatively affects pride in the social security system even more strongly than other facets of pride. The strongest individual-level factors affecting pride in the social security are those directly related to social inequality. Pride is lower among those who are more vulnerable and dependent on social policies (generally women rather than men) and those who bear the costs (full-time employed as main taxpayers). On the other hand, it is higher among those who might appreciate its necessity in ideological terms (the better educated) and need it less (those with higher subjective social status). This outcome shows an important discrepancy in evaluations: those with a greater impact on policymaking have a more optimistic view of the social security system than those whom it primarily affects. These results have important policy implications as they suggest that, by presenting social policy issues in a more positive manner and specifically targeting past-oriented expectations, policymakers can foster public understanding and involvement.