Generous welfare benefits make people MORE likely to work, study claims

Benefits and welfare schemes are often blamed for making people less likely to want to work. 

But a study has found that the opposite may be true. 

A Europe-wide survey of 19,000 people revealed that the more a country paid to the unemployed or sick, and invested in employment schemes, the more likely its residents were to want a job.

In Norway in particular, which pays the highest benefits in Europe, almost 80 per cent of people wanted a job, 

By contrast in Estonia, one of the least generous countries, only around 40 per cent did.

The survey was carried out by sociologists Dr Kjetil van der Wel and Dr Knut Halvorsen from Oslo and Akershus University College. 

They examined responses to the statement: 'I would enjoy having a paid job even if I did not need the money' put to the interviewees for the European Social Survey in 2010.


People who are hungry are more inclined to support of the welfare state policies that help the poor.  

The extraordinary results of a recent study from Aarhus University found that the state of our bodies has a significant influence on our position on specific political issues.

Researchers said people's support for apparently altruistic policies of wealth redistribution is not so much a reflection of concern for the poor but 'rather a strategy for securing further resources for themselves.'

And they their findings could revolutionise perceptions of how people come to adopt a political stance, with our ideological views apparently swayed by basic biology. 


These responses were then compared with the amount the countries spent on welfare benefits and employment schemes, while taking into account the population differences between the member states. 

The UK was average for the generosity of benefits, which was reflected in the percentage of people agreeing with the statement at almost 60 per cent.



The researchers also found that governments that intervene to help the unemployed find work made people in general more likely to agree that they wanted work even if they didn't need the money.

'Many scholars and commentators fear that generous social benefits threaten the sustainability of the welfare state due to work norm erosion, disincentives to work and dependency cultures,' the researchers said in the paper, 'The bigger the worse? A comparative study of the welfare state and employment commitment'.

'A basic assumption is that if individuals can obtain sufficient levels of well-being - economic, social and psychological - from living off public benefits, compared to being employed, they would prefer the former. 

'When a 'critical mass' of individuals receive public benefits rather than engaging in paid work, the norms regulating work and benefit behaviour will weaken, setting off a self-reinforcing process towards the 'self-destruction' of the welfare state.  

They also said that this may be because people who receive generous benefits when out of work may feel more inclined to give something back to the state by striving hard to find work. 

'The notion that big welfare states are associated with widespread cultures of dependency, or other adverse consequences of poor short term incentives to work, receives little support.' 

The paper was published in the journal Work, Employment and Society.