Health and political efficacy in context: What is the role of the welfare state?

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Health affects nearly all facets of our lives, including the likelihood of getting involved in politics. Focusing on political efficacy, we zoom in on one potential mechanism as to why people in poor health might, for example, stay at home on Election Day. We first look at the ways in which health is related to both people’s perceptions of their abilities to take part in politics (internal political efficacy) as well as the extent to which they believe policymakers are responsive to citizen needs (external political efficacy). Second, we examine how the social policy context intervenes in the relationship between health and political efficacy. Multilevel models using 2014 and 2016 European Social Survey data on roughly 57,000 respondents nested in 21 European countries reveal complex results: while good health, rather unsurprisingly, fosters internal and external political efficacy, more generous welfare states, though associated with higher levels of political efficacy, are not a panacea for remedying political inequalities stemming from individual health differences.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Comparative Sociology
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)435-457
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019

    Research areas

  • Multilevel analysis, political efficacy, political inequality, self-rated health, welfare regimes

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