Project Period: Jan. 2018-Dec. 2021

Franziska Deeg and Sarah Berens in Bremen at the Causal Mechanisms Workshop, November 2019


Mexico Project Part


We promote the argument that countries’ economic structural interdependence based on trade relationships influence individual preferences for social policy programs. When a central trading partner raises barriers in the form of increased tolls and tariffs it will increase the perception of labor market vulnerability and economic risk. Subsequently, increased risk perception should fuel different demands for different types of social policy reforms. Labor market segmentation into formal and informal workers thereby moderates the impact of risk. Our analysis contains two steps: the impact of changing trade relationships on individual economic risk perception, and, subsequently, the effect of risk on social policy preferences. To investigate the first part of the argument, we use a vignette experiment that primes individuals about hazards of changes in current trade relationships between Mexico and the U.S.. Next, we analyze how risk perception influences social policy preferences and how far different redistribution coalitions arise. As workers embedded in notoriously permeable labor markets not only frequently switch the sector of employment, but also share households with a spouse who works e. g. in the informal sector, social policy preferences cannot be simply derived from income level. Using a conjoint experiment that models the trade-off between different social policies and different degrees of scope, level, and who pays for it, allows to study the effect of increased risk perception and employment sector on policy preferences in a more nuanced way. We study our argument with an experimental survey for the case of Mexico in 2018. We registered our Pre-Analysis Plan for our Mexico Project “The Wall and the Welfare State” on EGAP in 2018. The survey was collected in November 2018 in the Mexican states Puebla and Querétaro.


First results from the Mexico Survey

Varieties of Economic Vulnerability: Evidence on Social Policy Preferences and Labor Informality from Mexico

Melina Altamirano (Colmex), Sarah Berens (University of Innsbruck) & Franziska Deeg (University of Cologne)

Latin American Politics & Society (2022)

Abstract: In many Latin American countries, social policy preferences among economically vulnerable citizens seem largely unpolarized. However, current studies rarely confront citizens with realistic policy options and often lack the required detail to capture the heterogeneity of economic vulnerability. Drawing on the dualization debate, we expect individuals facing different degrees of vulnerability to show distinct social policy preferences. Using original survey data from Mexico and a conjoint experiment, our findings reveal a complex divide, where the most economically vulnerable are least supportive of public solutions. Sharing the home with a formal labor market participant does not seem to mitigate social policy skepticism among the vulnerable. In contrast, magnified vulnerability via household composition reduces support for welfare policy expansion. Social policy preferences become much less distinct when policy design alternatives are introduced, suggesting reduced expectations about the state’s role and a lack of clarity about the tangible benefits of social policy reform.

Moving North and Coming Back: How concerns about different types of migrants affect social policy demands among low- and high-skilled Mexicans

Authors: Sarah Berens and Franziska Deeg, UoC


(conditional accept at Politics & Society)

Abstract: Middle-income countries experience various types of migration: transients, emigrants, refugees, returnees. The domestic economy is especially influenced by refugees and returnees. Since returnees and refugees vary in access to social policy programs and in skill composition, different types of migration should vary in “threat potential” for social policy demands, with the low-skilled responding more negatively to refugees, while the high-skilled face greater competition from returning natives. We test our argument with original survey data from Mexico, distinguishing respondents’ concerns about two distinct streams of migration: Central Americans seeking refuge in Mexico and Mexicans returning from living in the United States. Surprisingly, we find that the low-skilled suffer neither type of migration concern; whereas high-skilled Mexicans oppose expanding social welfare when concern about returnees is high. Social solidarity in the welfare state is most depressed by returning natives.

Key wordsSocial policy preferences · Migration · Mexico · U.S. returnees · Survey

B03-Cologne Team (Summer 2018)  from left to right: Clara Baues, Ann-Katrin Schäfer, Sarah Berens, Franziska Deeg and Paul Beckmann


Brazil Survey 2019 (São Paulo State Survey, SPSBrazil Survey 2019)

Our randomized public opinion survey based on N=1.000 respondents has been completed in August 2019. Our local survey partner IBOPE collected the survey data based on face-to-face interviews using tablets. The experimental survey contains several vignette experiments, a priming experiment and a conjoint application. Here is a closer description of one of the projects:

Trade, Migration and Social Policy: How international trade risks and migration flows affect welfare deservingness perception in Brazil


Sarah Berens & Franziska Deeg, UoC

Abstract: Access to social policy benefits is highly conflictual, especially in contexts of limited budgets. Who is deemed as deserving is determined by the beneficiaries’ control over the likelihood of neediness and reciprocity, that is, prior contributions to the welfare good. Next to the simple cost-benefit logic, scholarly work has established robust findings on welfare chauvinism as predictor of deservingness preferences. Nationals and members of the majority group that are part of one’s in-group are prioritized over migrants and ethnic or cultural minorities. In addition, individuals who work hard are considered more deserving compared to those who are seen as lazy. Building on these insights we study how far being a globalization loser versus winner determine preferences on the deservingness of social benefits in a context of welfare retrenchment and limited state capacity. We expect that those who are more strongly exposed to risk by working in the tradable sector will be prioritized to receive social benefits compared to individuals who are economically at risk due to actual fault. Different sources of risk exposure should raise different deservingness preferences. We study deservingness preferences in the context of the public pension reform in one of the largest developing economies, Brazil. We employ a conjoint experiment on beneficiary profiles to tease out how factors such as the recipient’s status as either a formal or informal sector worker (reciprocity) and the nationality of the recipient (identity) in comparison to being a globalization winner or loser (control) influence the acceptance of pension eligibility. We study our argument with a randomized face-to-face experimental survey at the state of Sao Paulo in Brazil.


Background of the project B03

In the subproject B03 of Collaborative Research Centre 1342 we investigate the complementary development of social policy in several states under conditions of intensified global economic interdependence. We focus on the relationship between transatlantic trade and social policy. We systematically investigate how the respective interests of voter groups and political parties arising from economic interdependencies translate into state policy according to political conflict and cooperation mechanisms and how they thus shape the specific institutional profile of the respective welfare states and political economies in the long term.

The subproject’s central research question is: To what extent has the horizontal economic interdependence between states in the Americas and Western Europe led to the formation of complementary welfare state regimes and political economies and which redistributive coalitions were behind these developments? Complementarity refers to differences in the institutional development of the political economies that are mutually interdependent. The central causal mechanism is the developing economic division of labour, which is politically reflected in different redistributive coalitions. The subproject will present these coalitions in a historical context with respect to political parties and in a contemporary context with respect to the electorate. The central topic of the subproject is: How, through the international division of labour, i.e. comparative cost advantages, do the institutions of the welfare state develop complementarily to each other – guided by political processes – and how do they mutually stabilize each other within their differences. We are thereby formulating a clear alternative explanation to that proposed, for example, by the convergence notion of modernization theory.

On the one hand, the subproject reconstructs the political and especially social and trade policy related reactions to crises in North America and Western Europe before the Second World War. Looking at the period after 1945, on the other hand the subproject expands its perspective to include the economic integration of South America and its industrialization strategy as well as current conflicts in trade policy. The investigation will focus on the interaction between – foreign trade-oriented – societal interest groups and their political mediation in the multiparty systems of Western Europe, the two-party system in the USA and the clientelistic presidential systems found in Latin America that all have different capacities to represent local versus “functional” interests. The aim of the subproject is to develop a concise theoretical framework that is compatible with the Varieties of Capitalism (VoC) approach and is valid for the reciprocally influencing formation of the West European, Latin American and North American welfare states. In doing so we can systematically extend an approach that previously focused on just Western Europe. Methodologically, we combine historical-comparative case studies, quantitative analyses at the macrolevel and survey data at the microlevel.


Principal investigators (2018-2021):

  • Prof. Dr. Philip Manow
  • Ass.- Prof. Dr. Sarah Berens

PhD students:

  • Franziska Deeg (June 2018 – December 2021), CCCP
  • Paul Beckmann (Aug-Nov 2018), CCCP
  • Martín Cortinae Escudero (since May 2018), University of Bremen

Student assistants:

  • Ann-Katrin Schäfer (June 2018 – Feb. 2019)
  • Clara Baues (June 2018 – January 2022), CCCP