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What determines subjective socio-economic insecurity? Context and class in comparative perspective

  • Steffen Mau
  • Jan Mewes
  • Nadine M. Schöneck
Publishing year: 2012-10-01
Language: English
Pages: 655-682
Publication/Series: Socio-Economic Review
Volume: 10
Issue: 4
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Oxford University Press

Abstract english

The phenomenon of socio-economic insecurity is widely discussed in contemporary public and academic discourse. However, it is unclear how objective socio-economic and institutional conditions affect subjective feelings of insecurity. Based on a review of the relevant literature, we hypothesize that objective contextual factors of labour market characteristics, levels of social protection and levels of internationalization and globalization exacerbate or mitigate subjective feelings of insecurity. We derive and test specific hypotheses using data from the fourth round of the European Social Survey (fielded 2008/2009). Based on our multilevel analysis of 18 412 individuals in 19 countries, we find that socio-economic (GDP) and institutional (welfare state effort) factors are relevant to subjective socio-economic insecurity, whereas the degree of internationalization (economic globalization, share of foreign-born population) plays a surprisingly negligible role. Moreover, significant cross-level interactions among social class and income inequality, unemployment, labour market regulation and economic globalization indicate that these country-level factors have a class-specific impact.


  • Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
  • C31 cross-sectional models
  • Economic anthropology
  • Globalization
  • I30 welfare and poverty - general
  • Labor market protection
  • Quantile regressions
  • Social and economic stratification
  • Social interaction models
  • Social security
  • Socio-economic insecurity
  • Spatial models
  • Treatment effect models
  • Z13 economic sociology


  • ISSN: 1475-1461
Photo of Jan Mewes by Emma Lord.
E-mail: jan [dot] mewes [at] soc [dot] lu [dot] se

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Department of Sociology
Lund University
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Faculty of Social Sciences