Welfare Chauvinism in Europe

I am happy to announce that my solo-authored monograph has been published by Edward Elgar Publishing in January 2024. The title of the book is „Welfare Chauvinism in Europe: How Education, Economy and Culture Shape Public Attitudes”. The preface and the first chapter are available open access here. And the live stream of the public book launch at SPUI25 in Amsterdam City Centre is available here. Here you can find a detailed interview with me on the topic, it was published in one of the biggest newspapers in the Netherlands.

The book deals with one of the most pressing questions in current social science research: How do welfare states deal with increasing levels of migration? This question is widely debated in public, political and academic circles as the redistribution of welfare resources to migrants increasingly polarises society. Not only politicians from the radical right but also from more mainstream parties are capitalising on the idea of ‘welfare for our kind’, or welfare chauvinism. In my new book, I provide a comprehensive analysis of welfare chauvinism in Europe, exploring how it is shaped by education, economy and culture.

By constructing an extensive overview of welfare chauvinism’s causes and consequences, Welfare Chauvinism in Europe sheds light on the multidimensionality of welfare chauvinist attitudes across countries, time, social policies, and different migrant groups. I unveil hidden nuances regarding welfare chauvinism that are frequently overlooked in current discourse, particularly concerning socioeconomic cleavages in Europe. Using high-quality data on public attitudes and macro-level conditions, I particularly investigate the common misperception that higher levels of education universally lead to more tolerant attitudes. I demonstrate that governments and welfare institutions play a crucial role in shaping education cleavages and public opinion overall.

My book received critical acclaim from scholars:

‘In this excellent book, Gianna Maria Eick provides novel analysis of why some Europeans want to exclude migrants from access to “their” national welfare states. Her nuanced study of the role of education and national contexts in shaping welfare chauvinism is a thought-provoking and highly recommended read for all those working in the fields of migration, welfare states, and European integration.’
 – Martin Ruhs, European University Institute, Italy

 ‘With migrant populations rising across Europe, welfare chauvinism – the desire to exclude migrants from social safety nets – has become one of the great political issues of our time. Why do native citizens shun migrants in this way, and what can be done to build more inclusive welfare systems? This outstanding new book from Gianna Maria Eick brings a wealth of new data and analysis to bear on these important questions. Required reading for anyone interested in how to build welfare states fit for a diverse and mobile world.’
 – Robert Ford, University of Manchester, UK

 ‘Eick provides a comprehensive yet nuanced picture of the empirical relationship between higher education and welfare chauvinism and in doing so challenges the notion that higher education unfailingly bestows individuals with liberal sociopolitical attitudes. Her analyses reveal that countries’ economic conditions, cultural norms, and welfare state institutions affect the size of the educational gap, thereby limiting higher education’s liberalizing potential. These findings have implications not only for our understanding of higher education’s so-called liberalizing effects but also the determinants of welfare chauvinism. A timely read for scholars of comparative welfare states in an era of increased immigration and neo-nationalism.’
 – Maureen A. Eger, Umeå University, Sweden

 ‘Through rigorous analyses of survey data, Eick nuances our understanding of public opinion towards denying migrants access to welfare provisions. Most centrally, she demonstrates that welfare chauvinism is also found among the higher educated and that the “enlightenment-effect” is absent in some European contexts. The book also highlights patterns in public opinion that could pave the way for more inclusive welfare states. Do not read this book if you want a sweeping statement. Read this book if you want to understand under which conditions the public wants to deny, and give, migrants access to welfare provisions.’
 – Christian Albrekt Larsen, Aalborg University, Denmark

‘Gianna Eick guides the reader expertly through the complex nature of welfare chauvinism, across a decade when European societies came under economic and political stress. By separating empirical patterns from erroneous assumptions this book provides rich insights to established scholars as well as newcomers to the field.’
– Tom van der Meer, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands

 ‘The tension between migration and welfare is at the heart of current political conflicts. In her book, Gianna Maria Eick provides a profound and nuanced account of the scope of solidarity and the willingness to include “others” by looking at educational cleavages as well as their cross-national and temporal variations.’
 – Steffen Mau, Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany