Responsibility for Impairment Shapes the Perceived Deservingness of Welfare Claimants with Disabilities

04 April 2022, Version 1

Abstract

In this article, we test the extent to which the perceived deservingness of people with disabilities (PWD) for state support is conditional. To do so, we use two novel survey experiments asking respondents to assess the deservingness of a fictitious subject. We manipulate two characteristics of the subject: how they acquired their impairment, and an ethnic in-group/out-group cue. We find that PWD perceived as even some- what responsible for their impairments are considered substantially less deserving of government assistance than those perceived not responsible, even when their needs are identical. Further, we find that all else equal, migrant and ethnic minority PWD are seen as less deserving of assistance than ethnic majority and native-born PWD. The results challenge the existing orthodoxy of the universality of support for PWD and highlights the shortcomings of research that treats PWD as a homogenous group.

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