Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Macrosociology

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Department of Social Sciences | Macrosociology | Research | Projects | Ethnic Diversity and Welfare State Solidarity

Ethnic Diversity and Welfare State Solidarity

(Principal Investigator: Steffen Mau, Post-doctoral Researcher: Jan Mewes)

Funded by the European Science Foundation (ESF) / German Research Foundation (DFG) (Jan. 2009-Dec. 2011) as part of the Collaborative Research Project

Welfare Attitudes in a Changing Europe

(Project Coordinator: Stefan Svallfors, Umeå University)

The Collaborative Research Project is part of the ESF funding initiative Cross-National and Multi-level Analysis of Human Values, Institutions and Behaviour (HumVIB)



In recent decades Western Europe had to face increasing migration levels resulting in more diverse populations. Ethnic diversity and, as a direct consequence, the question of adequate inclusion of immigrants into the social security system put the welfare state under pressure. In many welfare states, immigrants are among those groups most in need of state support and with difficulties to make ends meet. In some Western European countries, the public as well as relevant political actors have mobilised against foreigners as becoming a massive burden to the welfare state and being profiteers of the social security system. This has partly been framed in economic terms, i.e. with the foreigners posing an economic threat, and partly in cultural terms where the in- and the out-groups were defined in ethnic or nationalistic terms. In the recent years, this resentment is also reflected on the policy level with a number of countries making it more difficult for foreigners to enjoy equal rights, e.g. by launching specific welfare programs for certain types of migrants.

As a consequence of migration some authors expect that the European welfare states – once based on social and ethnic homogeneity - will have difficulties to accommodate to increasing diversity. It is emphasized that the solidarity on which commitment to the welfare state is based declines when the level of ethnic fractionalization in a society increases. Hence, possible effects of greater ethnic diversity could be growing anti-welfare sentiments and, in the long run, a weakened welfare state.

The project will scrutinize the relationship between ethnic fractionalization/immigration and public social expenditure, on the one hand, and welfare state support and attitudes towards immigrants, on the other hand. Guiding question will be whether ethnic diversity endangers the European welfare state or whether other factors are more important in explaining both the level of social expenditure and public support for the welfare state. A second and related question which will be adressed is the role of subjective socio-economic insecurity as a mediating factor and the issue whether globalization and migration heighten feelings of insecurity.



Jan Mewes / Steffen Mau (2013): Globalization, socio-economic status and welfare chauvinism. European perspectives on attitudes toward the exclusion of immigrants. In: International Journal of Comparative Sociology.

Steffen Mau (2013): Wohlfahrtsstaat und Migration. In: Marius R. Busemeyer/Bernhard Ebbinghaus/Stephan Leibfried/Nicole Mayer-Ahuja/Herbert Obinger/Birgit Pfau-Effinger (ed.): Wohlfahrtspolitik im 21. Jahrhundert. Neue Wege der Forschung. Frankfurt/New York: Campus, 219-231.

Steffen Mau / Jan Mewes / Nadine M. Schöneck (2012): ‘What Determines Subjective Socio-Economic Insecurity? Context and Class in Comparative Perspective’, in: Socio-Economic Review 10(4): 655-682.

Jan Mewes/Steffen Mau (2012): Unraveling Working Class Chauvinism. In: Stefan Svallfors (ed.) Contested Welfare States: Welfare Attitudes in Europe and Beyond. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 119-157.

Steffen Mau / Jan Mewes / Nadine Schöneck (2011): Die Produktion sozialer Sicherheit. Beschäftigungssicherheit, Einkommenssicherung und gesundheitliche Versorgung in ländervergleichender Perspektive. In: Berliner Journal für Soziologie, Heft 2: 175-202.

Steffen Mau / Christoph Burkhardt (2010): Zuwanderung und die Ressourcen wohlfahrtsstaatlicher Solidarität, in: Hans-Georg Soeffner (ed.): Unsichere Zeiten: Herausforderungen gesellschaftlicher Transformationen. Verhandlungen des 34. Kongresses der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Soziologie in Jena 2008. Band 1. Wiesbaden: VS. 141-155.



Jan Mewes: Globalization and Anti-Immigrant Sentiment in Europe, 1990-2008: A Dynamic, Bayesian Multilevel Modeling Approach. HumVIB/WAE meeting. Université de Lausanne (Switzerland), April 28-29, 2011.

Jan Mewes: Welfare Chauvinism in Comparative Perspective. HumVIB book conference, 'Welfare Attitudes in a Changing Europe,' (organizer: Stefan Svallfors) Rockefeller Center, Bellagio (Italy), 22-25 November 2010.

Steffen Mau/Jan Mewes: Immigration, Globalization, and Support for the Inclusion of Foreigners. Council for European Studies. 17th International Conference of Europeanists. Montreal (Canada), April 15-17 2010.