Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Begrudging farmers and attitudes to welfare

Those people commenting here and elsewhere about their lack of sympathy for farmers and opposition to any assistance will be pleased to know that Work and Income has not made any payments to farmers since the official drought declaration.

A spokesman for Work and Income said no rural assistance payments had been made since drought had been declared.
As I pointed out yesterday on an earlier thread these payments will be very hard to access and are only for people in extreme hardship.

Personally I don't begrudge it.

Here's something relevant written by an economist:

Attitudes towards welfare may differ substantially even across otherwise similar countries, but the basic determinants of solidarity and willingness to help are understood well enough. An interesting summary of the quantitative and qualitative research is provided by Horton and Gregory (2009: 110–30). It shows, first of all, that most people are not indifferent to the distress of others. 


Most people, however, have strong views on what they expect from those receiving help. The single biggest deterrent to generosity is fear of being taken advantage of. Free-riding is so destructive that it need not even be especially widespread in order to undermine people’s willingness to help. At the same time, nothing boosts the willingness to be generous as much as the confidence that most recipients of aid will collaborate, and do their best to improve their own situation.


The bottom line of the research is that people empathise with those who try – even if they try unsuccessfully. This is such a strong determinant of people’s willingness to help others that it trumps all other considerations.


An interesting illustration is an experimental study in which participants are presented with a set of fictional characters, and are asked to evaluate the degree to which they are deserving (ibid.:123–30). One of the characters has entered hard times through no fault of his own, receives benefits now, has the opportunity to change his situation, but does not do so. Another character has only himself to blame for having come on hard times, but is now doing his best to get his life back on track again. Participants empathised more strongly with the latter character. People are not primarily interested in who is to blame for a situation, but in who is doing their best to remedy the situation.

No comments: