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Are EU citizens ready to share the risk of unemployment crises hitting their countries? Certainly! A team of political scientists from the University of Amsterdam shows European citizens’ attitudes towards cross-border risk sharing in the domain of unemployment insurance. The results have been officially presented today in Brussels.


One of the authors, Frank Vandenbroucke, comments: “Risk-sharing for unemployment can be organized in many different ways. Our research shows that the concrete policy design - the way in which unemployment risks are shared in practice - is important when it comes to the support by EU citizens. Our results also show differences in public support between countries and differences in attitude between individual citizens, which are related to diverse socio-economic positions and world views.” The survey was conducted in 13 EU Member States, involving 19500 respondents, covering 70% of the EU’s population.

One of the conclusions from the survey is that the majority of the EU population is in favor European Unemployment Risk Sharing (EURS). A relatively small part of the population is fundamentally against it. “This is contrary to what you would think if you follow politics,” says Vandenbroucke. “In political debates, statements are made about  what people think, sometimes without any substantiation”.

In most of the EU countries surveyed, the support is greater when the implementation of EURS is decentralized. Citizens are sensitive to the precise design of EURS: although this sensitivity differs from country to country, respondents generally prefer policy designs that are more generous, that require participating countries to offer education and training opportunities, that do not lead to tax increases, and designs that link conditions to the unemployment benefit.

The whole report and executive summary can be downloaded below.

To cite this report: Risk Sharing When Unemployment Hits: How Policy Design Influences Citizen Support For European Unemployment Risk Sharing (EURS). 2018. AISSR Policy Report 1 (December).


The research was carried out by means of a survey experiment with conjoint analysis, a method long used in marketing, but less so in the social sciences. Different options and changes to these options generated over 300 combinations of policy packages. When taking the survey, each of the respondents is confronted with 6 packages, drawn randomly from the total set of over 300 policy packages. All these options cover the huge diversity of policy proposals that might be implemented in the future.

It is the first time that such a complex problem, namely the design of policies, is put forward to people in a survey. It requires the respondents to imagine possible policies. Professor Frank Vandenbroucke: “The survey has shown that people are seriously thinking all the options through - and give much more sophisticated answers than we expected. This also has important implications for the way in which we debate about the future of the EU.”


Research team

The research was conducted by a team of political scientists from the Political Economy and Transnational Governance programme group of the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research: Frank Vandenbroucke, Brian Burgoon, Theresa Kuhn, Francesco Nicoli, David van der Duin and Sven Hegewald. Also Stefano Sacchi from the National Institute for Public Policy Analysis in Rome was involved in the research.

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