Understanding Public Attitudes to Redistribution during a Cost of Living Crisis

24 Apr 23

Understanding Public Attitudes to Redistribution during a Cost of Living Crisis

This new systematic review from the Nuffield Politics Research Centre (NPRC), uses more than one hundred pieces of academic research to investigate how public attitudes are affected by income shocks. It is the first of five reviews in a series by NPRC, each tackling a different timely question.

In the first review, the authors take into account several important considerations about an individual’s current income, future income, and their income in early life, as well as any perceived potential benefit from government spending, and deservingness. Together they systematically analyse the relevant academic research to help answer the timely question of how people respond to income shocks in deciding who the government should take resources from and to whom it should provide them.

Professor Jane Green, Director of the NPRC and co-author, said:

“Research in the social sciences is a veritable treasure trove to guide public policy-making and public and political debates, but we need to be able to get that research into the wider world in ways that are useful. Our review provides an accessible overview for policymakers, charities, think tanks and students of political economy.”

Important findings from the review suggest that any support should benefit as large a group as is feasibly possible, to sustain public support, and avoid any stigmatisation of recipient groups. Where support is targeted to the poorest in society, there needs to be careful consideration of building trust among recipients, to ensure better uptake. Support must be implemented quickly and at the time of crisis, for it to gain broader public backing, which might otherwise abate over time.


To read the new review, People are becoming poorer. Does this mean there is more public demand for redistribution?

To stay up-to-date with the work of the Nuffield Politics Research Centre @NPRCOxford.