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No longer “my” poor

Social distance has weakened the moral consensus at the heart of our welfare system

By David Goodhart   March 2012

The British seem to have become less socially generous. The latest YouGov/Prospect opinion survey, combined with more historical data in the British Social Attitudes survey and elsewhere, suggests that there has been a sharp decline in willingness to support the poor and jobless over the past generation.

What lies behind this apparent decline? Are people making a cool, rational calculation about benefit levels lessening the incentive to work; or about how unlikely it is that they themselves will need benefits? Both may be factors, but they don’t explain why attitudes have changed so much since the 1980s.

What about the…

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