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Government for the People or People For Themselves: Citizens Changing Perceptions of the Role of Government in Providing Social Services. Christina Standerfer University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service. Background Material.

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Christina standerfer university of arkansas clinton school of public service

Government for the People or People For Themselves: Citizens Changing Perceptions of the Role of Government in Providing Social Services

Christina Standerfer

University of Arkansas

Clinton School of Public Service


Background material

Background Material

Citizen-driven approach to public service starts with understanding citizens’ perceptions of the government’s role in addressing any public issue.

Using data from the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP) Role of Government surveys, we compare how citizens’ perceptions of the role of government in providing basic services such as housing, social security to senior citizens, and educational aid to low-income families changed from 1996 to 2006.

Chose five countries: Czech Republic, Great Britain, Russia, Sweden, and U.S.


International social survey programme issp

International Social Survey Programme (ISSP)

Continuous programme of cross-national collaboration running periodic surveys on topics important for the social sciences

Started in 1984 with four founding members - Australia, Germany, Great Britain, and the United States

Has grown to 48 member countries from all over the world in 2011


Issp question focus

ISSP Question Focus

  • On the whole, do you think it should or should not be the government's responsibility to

    • Provide health care for the sick

    • Provide a decent standard of living for the old

    • Provide a decent standard of living for the unemployed

    • Give financial help to university students from low-income families

    • Provide decent housing for those who can't afford it

  • Scale of 1 to 4 with 1 indicating “Definitely should”; 2 indicating “Probably should”; 3 indicating “Probably should not”; and 4 indicating “Definitely should not.”


Research questions

Research Questions

Do the data suggest citizens’ perceptions of government’s responsibilities to provide social services changed from 1996 to 2006?

Do the data suggest any significant changes in citizens’ perceptions between 1996 and 2006 of which social services government should be responsible for?

Did significant differences in citizens’ perception of the role of government in providing social services exist among the countries identified during each time period surveys were administered?


Summary of findings czech republic

Summary of Findings: Czech Republic

  • Czech Republic citizens’ perceptions of the responsibility for providing the social services listed (with the exception of a decent standard of living for the unemployed) declined from 1996 to 2006.

  • T-test revealed that the only significant difference was in mean scores related to providing financial help for university students from low-income families.


Summary of findings great britain

Summary of Findings: Great Britain

  • These results suggest that British citizens’ perception of the role of government in providing the social services changed from 1996 to 2006, with respondents in 2006 expressing that the responsibility of the government should be less in all areas indicated.

  • T-test, however, revealed none of these differences was significant.


Summary of findings russia

Summary of Findings: Russia

  • Russian citizens’ perceptions of the role of government in providing the social services indicated were about the same in 1996 and ten years later.

  • Mean scores were slightly higher for all questions except providing decent housing for those who cannot afford it.

  • T-test revealed that the differences were not significant.


Summary of findings sweden

Summary of Findings: Sweden

  • Mean scores suggest perceptions of Swedish citizens in regard to the role of government in providing the social services indicated differed slightly from the 1996 and 2006 surveys, with respondents in 2006 indicating they perceived less responsibility on the government to provide these services.

  • T-test revealed that the only significant difference was in mean scores related to providing financial help for university students from low-income families.


Summary of finds u s

Summary of Finds: U.S.

  • Mean scores for U.S. respondents to the survey questions decreased from 1996 to 2006, indicating perceptions of the role of government increased in regard to providing these social services.

  • T-test revealed that the differences in means was significant for all factors except the responsibility of government in providing decent housing for those who cannot afford it.


Discussion points

Discussion Points

The data suggests that generally citizens in the five countries studied perceived their governments as having less responsibility in providing such services in 1996 than in 2006 (with the exception of the U.S.).

In general Russian citizens consistently perceived government as having more responsibility in providing social services than citizens in the Czech Republic, Sweden, Great Britain, and the U.S.

Although data from the U.S. suggest citizens’ perception of the responsibility of government to provide social services increased from 1996 to 2006, U.S. citizens still generally perceived their government has having less responsibility than did citizens in the other four countries.


Discussion points1

Discussion Points

  • Cannot make claims about the cause for the general decline in citizens’ perception of the role of government in providing social services

  • However, raises questions about the relationships of government to the independent or third sector and whether or not third sector providers should supplement or complement the services provided by government.

  • Further study warranted

    • Perceptions of how well governments provide social services


Questions

Questions?

Thank you!


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