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A comparative research of paternalistic attitude in Russia and in the USA
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Political Science 671: Methods of Political Research
“Paternalistic culture and welfare attitudes in the Russian Federation and the
United States of America”
A paternalistic attitude toward a government and expectations from the
government to be “a father” of the nation, to provide for the people in case of need, to
protect it from harm, even to employ those unemployed have been discussed by
philosophers starting from Confucius and later through Hobbes and to modern
communitarians (Gaus and Kukathas, 2004). Some nations allegedly express paternalistic
attitudes more vividly than the others. Ex-president of the Russian Federation Dmitry
Medvedev wrote in his famous article “Go Russia!” in 2009,
“The widespread paternalistic attitudes are in the society. There is the belief that
all problems should be resolved by the state or someone else, but not everyone in
his or her place. The desire to “make yourself” step by step, to achieve personal
success is not our national habit. Hence, there are the lacks of the initiative, new
ideas, unresolved issues, the poor quality of public debate, including the critical
views. Public acceptance and support are usually expressed in silence.
Objections are very often emotional, biting but superficial and irresponsible.
Well, these phenomena have been here for more than one hundred years”
Paternalistic attitudes are useful when politicians want to obtain quick popular
support for policies using populism (Abts and Rummens, 2007). However, when it comes
to the long-term economic development, to an entrepreneurship, paternalism becomes an
obstacle. Support of the welfare state seems now a natural drift of developed and, to some
extent, wealthy nations but when “the welfare ideology” is used in countries where
democratic culture has not yet taken roots, it may lead to growing dependency and the
“violation of the autonomy of the individual” (Matthews, 1986). Therefore, paternalism and
support of welfare may correlate each other.
Literature Review/Theory Development
The connection between cultural patterns and behavioral attitudes are in the focus
of political and social scientists. A huge variety of policies and regulations in the USA and
other countries are considered to be paternalistic and controversial for that reason. For
example, there are laws that require motorcyclists to wear helmets and passengers in cars
to fasten seatbelts. Government agencies may regulate both prescription and recreational
drugs. Taxes are levied on tobacco, and bans on trans-fats have been enacted. Participation
in pension programs, such as Social Security in the United States, is mandatory (Woodard
2015). All of those measures can be thought of as manifestations of the governmental
Culture in general and political culture, in particular, has a very distinct attribute –
to persist and perpetuate itself through history via socialization (Chilton, 1988).
Paternalistic culture, therefore, may be thought of as a product of the long period of
existence within a given society. The problem of paternalism is understood from different
Western scientists, following famous work On Liberty of John Stuart Mill, who
wrote, “the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a
civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either
physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant.” (Mill, 1974/1859) Therefore, only
interventions to stop an individual from harm to others can be justified, never to promote
their good (Le Grand and New, 2015). Paternalism as a political concept in that sense can
mean interference with choices or actions, targeted against the will but for the own good of
the person interfered with (Archard, 1990; Schramme, 2015; Weiss, 1985)1, limitation of
liberty (De Marneffe, 2006), illiberal, coercive, arrogant and patronizing act (Paul Burrows,
However, in a broader sense the paternalism can be understood as the special
relationships of a father to a child (Fotion, 1979). Such patron-client relationships (Alston
and Ferrie, 1999) may be aimed by the political leadership to attempt to supply the needs
or to regulate the life of the community (Sankowski, 1985) and, hence, create the
dependency. A paternalistic act is, therefore, one in which the protection or promotion of a
subject's welfare is the primary reason for attempted or successful coercive interference
with an action or state of that person (Carter, 1977). Russian scientists, whether by
tradition or other reasons, generally stress dependency on the governmental support of
different kinds as the main feature to distinguish paternalistic culture. Some of them
highlight the historical background and the heritage of “vogdism” (the cult of a leader) as
perpetuating paternalistic attitudes in the society2.
Hence, we see the problem of paternalism as a twofold problem: on the one hand, it
is Mill’s idea of non-intervention in autonomy of individuals for the sake of promoting their
well-being; on the other hand, very close to the previous one, the idea that due to such
interventions the government cultivates dependency in the society which could conceivably
lead to support of the government. The paternalistic idea that the government has the
responsibility to provide for its citizens is engraved in individual consciousness as a result
of historical identity. Therefore, these social values are reflected in human attitudes (Arikan
and Ben-Nun Bloom, 2015; Davidsson and Marx, 2013; Hall, 1986; Mau, 2004; Rothstein,
1998; Van Oorschot, 2007). The role social values can potentially play as a fundamental
Gerald Dworkin, Paternalism, in Edward N. Zalta, ed, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2006),
online at http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/paternalism/ (visited Jan 3, 2006)
2 For more information see Alekseev S.S. Theory of Law. - 2nd ed. M.: BECK, 1995
contextual influence in shaping individual attitudes towards redistribution has not been
studied thoroughly (Dion and Birchfield, 2010). Social or cultural values may be defined as
values representing the society’s shared ideas about what is good, right and desirable
(Schwartz, 1999). Social values also shape individuals into certain ways of thinking
(Triandis, 1994) because they serve as a standard for judging events (Smith et al., 2006).
Welfare policy, therefore, can be understood as a way of integrating the individual into the
society (Arikan and Ben-Nun Bloom, 2015; Esping-Andersen, 1990), as opposed to
promoting individual autonomy and self-reliance. Therefore, social insurance and welfare
policy often represent a tension between two important values: liberty and security
(Freeden, 2003). Consequently, individuals socialized in settings that stress a collective
responsibility for the security and well-being of others may be more willing to accept
governmental intervention in the economy to provide for the needy groups in the society
(Arikan and Ben-Nun Bloom, 2015). Ideological affiliation may also play a significant role
in shaping individual attitudes toward welfare. While the left generally supports
redistribution of resources (Arikan and Ben-Nun Bloom, 2015; Piurko et al., 2011), the
rights tend to promote values of individualism and self-sufficiency, therefore rejecting
governmental intervention and allocation (Arikan and Ben-Nun Bloom, 2015; Jacoby,
1994). Nonetheless, I argue that ideological may not always play a significant role in the
support of the welfare. Not in every society the political ideology is a significant part of
decision-making and behavior. Therefore, it is rather paternalism that plays a more distinct
role in that.
Paternalism as a Value: How it Shapes Public Opinion
Some scholars express agreement that individual way of thinking, values, and
behavior are influenced and even shaped by broader social values (Smith et al., 2006; Tom
W. Smith, 1987). Individuals tend to use terminology and refer to principles central to their
society’s shared values when discussing policy preferences, even if their personal value
orientations conflict with those of the society (Arikan and Ben-Nun Bloom, 2015; Feldman
and Zaller, 1992). Despite sharp societal disagreements, citizens of the same country may
show more than a little consensus on certain issues since they share a common moral
vocabulary (Bellah et al., 1985). For example, both the American public and the media tend
to attribute poverty to lack of individual effort and laziness, thereby placing responsibility
on the individual, while citizens of most European countries tend to blame contextual
factors like luck or social and economic conditions (Alesina and Glaeser, 2004; Iyengar,
1991; Semetko and Mandelli, 1997). Similarly, political actors in different countries
emphasize different concerns when considering the proper role of government in the
economy (King, 1973). Paternalism as a broader political and cultural context may
stimulate certain types of values and attitudes through socialization (Glinchikova, 2011).
But what are these values? What does the paternalism as a cultural treat stimulate in
individuals? Another Russian researcher S. Litvinova highlights that paternalistic policies
stimulate the desire for dependency and lack of autonomy which threatens the very
democratic principle. Moreover, she adds additional attitudes such as “sense of community
and unity, a common good and a sense of local patriotism” (Litvinova, 2005, p. 18).
Researchers associate the appearance of certain types of individual traits with
paternalistic attitudes. Amongst these traits are: strong identification with hiring
organization and the “deep dependence” on a range of issues of the everyday life, a sense of
responsibility, “the syndrome of social powerlessness”, and “social infantilism” (J.N.
Lapygin, J.L. Adelman, 1996).
Moreover, as a result of the socio-psychological research of attitudes towards the
phenomenon of power E.P. Belinsky and O.A. Tihomandritskaya selected the components
of paternalism as a socio-political pattern:
The personification of power and its mystification;
2. Shifting personal responsibilities from themselves to political
leadership who has powers;
3. The desire of being taken care of and protected by the authorities;
4. The attitude to the law, which manifests itself in the legal nihilism
(E.P. Belinsky and O.A. Tihomandritskaya, 2003).
Therefore, paternalism can be seen as a broader cultural attitude that stimulates
certain values which influence political behavior. Being a part of the culture, it is
reproduced in all areas of the society. It not only does characterize political but also social,
occupational and personal life. State dependency which paternalism strives to promote, has
made the loyalty (and not the success, efficiency, and initiative) subordinate criterion for
distribution of wealth. Nurturing a dependent individual is the main purpose of
paternalistic policies; someone who will always need a state, a government to hope for, to
ask for help and to obey when the state commands so.
Differences Across Context Two Cases (the US and Russia)
Many political scientists, especially from Russia, would agree on the paternalistic
nature of Russian political culture (Ermolenko, 1991; Naumov and Puffer, 2000; Baranov,
2003; Smeal, 2013). Nikolay Baranov sees roots of the paternalistic political culture of
Russians in extended Russian patriarchal family where there may be a couple of dozens of
members. The authority of the head of such a family – the “father” – was unquestionable
(Baranov, 2003). Such an order was reasonable and explainable – Russian climate with
short summer forced people to do many different types of agricultural works at the same
time. The only possible and adequate mechanism which was able to reach the goal was
strong authoritarianism. Baranov writes,
“The concentration of command functions of the authority, in this case, the head
of the patriarchal family, leaves all members of the household only a function of
obedience. In such a situation, a person has no need to feel the autonomy, he or
she shifts the responsibility for their own destiny to the family, the state, the
government, he or she moves away from the individual responsibility, and thus
from freedom” (Baranov, 2003, p. 136).
In Russia, the head of a family had full responsibility for each member of the family
but those relationships resembled ownership (S.S. Sulakshin, V.E. Bagdasarian, Y.U.
Zachesova, Y.E. Meshkov, 2009). Russian Orthodox Church supported such an order.
Thus, paternalism has become an axiom, a cultural archetype embodied in the Russian
mentality and political culture. The traditions preserved in folk, peasant culture also
characterized the culture of the educated elite of Russian society. The liberalism of the
European-style, spread after the bourgeois-democratic revolutions in Europe, transformed
under the pressure of internal and external circumstances. Russian victory in the war with
Napoleon strengthened national pride, consolidated society and acted as a stimulus in the
search for its way of development.
Paternalism as a basic foundation of the Russian Empire was implemented in the
following categories: diligence, supervision, protection, grace, helping those in need,
donation, relief, and indulgence (Lantcov, 2009).
“The history of the Soviet period confirms the stability of the formed paternalistic
traditions. All children of primary school age were Octobrists - grandchildren of
Lenin. A quarter-century the country was ruled by the “father of the peoples” –
Joseph Stalin. Party bodies carried out the functions of guardianship, supervising,
encouraging and punishing citizens guided by the norms of the moral code of the
builders of communism, and not the Constitution of the USSR” (Baranov, 2003, p.
The urgency of the problem of paternalism remains confirmed by the events of the
modern days, when the prevailing situation of the post-Soviet period has demonstrated the
need people have for the custody of the state, ensuring a social assistance and protection
that they regard as something a priori, as a mandatory feature of power. Paternalistic
tradition can be attributed to the “collective unconscious”, that is the archetype of the
culture learned in the process of socialization, and that controls peoples’ behavior at a
So long as people sacrifice their autonomy for the sake of what they believe to be
common good, which role do democratic values play in this game? Democratic values such
as freedom, the autonomy of the individual, responsibility for yourself and so on.
Researchers of political behavior in Russia nevertheless agree that like other Europeans,
many Russians have become more individualistic and set more specific life goals. Such
changes have become quite realistic now that Russians have the opportunity to purchase
their homes, buy shares in Russian companies, work, and study in various places, and earn
compensation for their work that is limited only by their own abilities, connections, and
energy rather than a fixed, low salary. To those who succeed in taking advantage of the new
opportunities and in adjusting to the huge changes in the country, Russia is a comfortable
place to live: adventurous, risky, but nonetheless pleasant. These people have a decent
education, own more than one apartment or vehicle, have high incomes, travel, and on the
whole, share European values. Their personal experience has taught them the worth of
such values. Most people, however, have not managed to take advantage of the
opportunities created by the transition – whether they are accustomed to state paternalism
or because of processes in the “mysterious Russian soul” or because of their age, poor
health, and other insurmountable circumstances. They are not affected by many problems
that their more affluent and better-educated compatriots encounter daily – corruption, lack
of protection of property rights, highhandedness from the defense and security agencies, an
unjust judicial system, censorship of the mass media, and so on. So such notions as “human
rights,” “civil liberties,” and “democracy” remain abstract for this less privileged segment of
the Russian society. Their needs are more down-to-earth while their values are less
oriented toward the individualism. It often manifests itself as a willingness to trade
personal rights and liberties for promises of better state support and a higher quality of life
Russians’ grasp of “liberalism” is even weaker than their understanding of
“democracy,” and they consider it less relevant to their lives. Negative associations are
much more widespread, characterizing at least one-fourth of the population. Youth,
students, highly educated individuals, entrepreneurs, executives, and specialists more often
express positive associations, whereas negative ones came from retirees, housewives,
specialists, and socially weak groups. Many people think that Russia does not need
liberalism. At the same time, Russian people support presidentialism in its Russian,
paternalistic, sense. This shift is especially attributed to socially weak strata: more elderly,
educated, and financially less secure respondents. Russians understand that in real life the
president controls the military, foreign policy, and is compliant with the Constitution.
Russians’ assessments, however, demonstrate a clear gap between the desired and the real
even regarding those areas of presidential authority. The president and the first two deputy
prime ministers are considered quite influential, in contrast to the prime minister and
other ministers. At the same time, people do not trust the parliament (Ordzhonikidze,
The United States of America is widely known for maintaining the image of
individualistic culture which has always rejected social responsibility of the state over the
society. It is peculiar that the author who was the first to notice this American feature was
not American. French statesman Alexis de Tocqueville undertook an investigation of young
American republic and, as Kaplan says,
“while Tocqueville saw egotism and selfishness as vices, he saw individualism as
not a failure of feeling, but as a way of thinking about things which could have
either positive consequences such as a willingness to work together, or negative
consequences such as isolation, and that individualism could be remedied by
improved understanding” (Kaplan, 2005).
Individualism is so embedded in the very fabric of American culture that even
American president Herbert Hoover wrote a book “American Individualism and the
Challenge to Liberty” which he devoted to defending American individual values3.
American individualism and individualistic ideas and beliefs can be traced back to the
Revolutionary era (Grabb, Baer, and Curtis, 1999). In the portrayal of the early American
value system, personal liberty is highly prized and encouraged but, at the same time, is
consistently moderated by a regard for civic responsibility and a respect for the rights of
others (Shain, 1994).
Iyengar (2005) argues that “while governance is necessary to
See Herbert Hoover (1989) “American Individualism and the Challenge to Liberty”. Regina Books – 129.
maintain law and order and protect society from external threats, domestic problems are
and should be matters of individual responsibility” and he continues “if people are poor, it
is because they lack initiative; people who are unemployed could find work if they tried
harder.” (Iyengar 2005, p. 1). American Constitution – though mentioning promotion of
the general Welfare (The Constitution of the United States, 1787) – never clarifies what is
meant by the welfare, therefore, it still remains vivid phrase in the preamble.
“The American Dream” is a common concept which many people make reference to
when they wish to talk about how great the United States and capitalism is. “At its core, the
general public’s aversion to anything that smacks of some form of unlimited public
assistance that is not tied to work is and has always been rooted in the American Dream”
(Schneiderman, 2008). The American Dream is the belief that those who work hard can,
and will, get ahead. So if hard work will bring success then those who do not succeed must
be trying not hard enough. The irony is that in a system which does not have strong
economic ladders the path to get ahead can be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to get
ahead. Most people believe government assistance should be temporary and limited but a
reliable source of support during hard times, i.e. a safety net. Problems arise when the
assistance is too little to do much to help those who need it.
Lipset contends that the historical beginnings of the United States gave rise to an
exceptional society, one guided by an ideology or value system that is unique in the world.
He calls this modern, bourgeois, and democratic value system “Americanism”, or “the
American Creed” (Lipset, 1963). In his most recent work, Lipset offers a succinct rendering
of what he means by the American Creed. He asserts that the American belief system can be
described using five key terms: liberty, egalitarianism, individualism, populism, and
laissez-faire (Lipset, 1996). It is difficult to find complete and consistent definitions for
some of these concepts in Lipset's various discussions. Another conceptual issue to
consider is that the first three of these concepts are general in nature, while the other two
terms, populism, and laissez-faire, refer more specifically to the political and economic
spheres of life. However, it can be contended that there is a single common conceptual
thread linking all five of these descriptors of the American Creed. The crux of these five
ideas is a paramount belief in the notion that all people should be allowed to pursue their
own desired goals and interests in a society that encourages open competition, even
conflict, and that is largely free of collective constraints on individual citizens (Lipset,
1968). He argues that Americans are said to be especially averse to having their individual
liberty infringed upon by “statist communitarianism” or the intrusions of government
(Lipset, 1996). More generally, though, Americans are portrayed as being suspicious of any
organization or collectivity that limits their personal freedom4. Lipset suggests that the
American desire for personal freedom even shapes what some would say is the most
communitarian of all human endeavors – religious activity. Religious involvement is
particularly significant in the case of the United States because, as Lipset and many other
analysts have noted, Americans exhibit a much greater devotion and commitment to
religion than most other peoples of the world do (e.g., Lipset, 1963 Alexander, R. M., et al.,
1987; Finke Roger, and Rodney Stark, 1992). However, in this case, Lipset suggests that it
is a manifestation of a personal freedom and rejection of guidance – to worship one's own
God in one's own way – that is sacrosanct for Americans, overriding any pressures for
group constraint or conformity imposed by the church organization or religious
community. To Lipset, the “Protestant sectarian” nature of American religion is a key
Numerous illustrations of this alleged American resistance to communitarian restraints and regulations can
be found in Lipset's analyses of the present-day United States. For example, Lipset sees this resistance as the
explanation for why Americans are more likely than Canadians and other peoples to get divorced, to commit
crimes, and to refrain from voting in elections. That is, he interprets these differences as evidence that
collective considerations and obligations, such as maintaining a stable marriage or family life, obeying
society's laws, or participating in the political system, are less important to Americans than their individual
freedom to do as they wish (Lipset, 1996, pp. 13, 26, 46)
indicator of this emphasis on individual choice and is reflected in the large and varied
range of churches that exists in the United States. The diversity in American religious
organizations is contrasted with the allegedly more monolithic, authoritarian, and often
“state-supported” Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, and Orthodox churches that Lipset says are
dominant in most other Christian nations (Lipset, 1996: 19; also Lipset, 1968: 52-53, 248251). For Lipset religion plays one of the key roles in forming American individualism as an
opposition to paternalism. In portraying the American Creed, Lipset states that the set of
dominant values in American society is basically synonymous with the concept of
“liberalism”. However, here he is referring specifically to liberalism in the “eighteenth- and
nineteenth-century meanings” of the term (Lipset, 1996: 31).
Attitudes toward welfare have always been controversial in the USA. Timid
attempts to introduce elements of welfare before the twentieth century were inconsistent
and unstable and often developed on municipal level or even by private companies (Katz,
1996). Main successful endeavor happened during the Great Depression when the
government headed by Franklin Roosevelt introduced social programs such as social
security and generally involved the state into the economy (Katz, 2013). Economists from
the right, using Austrian capital theory often criticize Keynesian stimulus/job creation
programs as being paternalistic imposing dependence by the state (Ellerman, 2015).
Political conservatives such as Charles Murray have argued that U.S. welfare programs
create incentives that are deleterious to the work ethic and the two-parent family structure
(Murray, 2015). In Lipset's view, the American Creed explicitly stresses that each individual
should enjoy “equality of opportunity and respect,” but not necessarily equality “of result or
condition,” and that people should be treated primarily as individuals in this regard, not as
members of collectivities (1996: 19). In effect, then, Lipset's use of liberalism is almost the
opposite of what is now meant by the concept, amounting to what many present-day
writers call “conservatism” (see Pocklington, 1985: 63-64, 72; Gwyn, 1985: 162).
However, not every scientist or policymaker is prone to criticizing paternalism. A
group of social policy scholars and politicians have also known as “new paternalists” stress
the possibility of positive behavioral responses that can be fostered by properly designed
welfare programs; they argued that government can and should use public support
programs to promote certain behaviors such as work and marriage while discouraging
others such as out-of-wedlock births and substance abuse. To accomplish these goals,
paternalists argue that welfare should not be an entitlement. Rather recipients must accept
a certain set of conditions in exchange for assistance and must maintain certain behaviors
while enrolled in the program (Mead, 1997).
America, therefore, possesses a very peculiar type of culture. From the one hand,
there is a considerable amount of American public who deliberately emphasizes the notion
of American individualism and that every individual is the master of his or her destiny.
From the other hand, America has one of the highest rates of poverty in the world and
almost alone among developed nations does not have a universal healthcare, assuming it is
a right and responsibility of the individual to care
for themselves. The paternalistic
sentiment is not embedded in the “American soul” albeit can be found among Americans.
In this research I investigate relations between paternalism (independent
variable), identified broadly as a system of relations in which the authorities provide for the
needs of the citizens and the support of the welfare (dependent variable). I argue that there
may be positive relationships between paternalism and support of the welfare. Therefore, I
think that people in countries where the paternalistic attitude is present more explicitly
tend to support welfare measures. To show this, I undertake a comparative analysis of such
attitudes in Russia and the USA. Comparative part of the research helps to control for the
independent variable and show meaningful relations between two variables.
My choice is explained by widely known American commitment to freedom as the
highest value and, hence the rejection of “big government” while Russians, on the contrary,
tend to support “big” and active government. Therefore, comparison of attitudes toward
welfare in those countries may give an insight about relationships between paternalism and
the welfare support.
The Data and methods
My design is non-experimental and involves a survey research. The data to test
these hypotheses was obtained from the World Values Survey Wave 6 data covering the
2010-20145. The dataset is a cross-national project with identical questioner that allows for
comparison of several countries. It covers a wide range of economical as well as political,
social and cultural aspects of human lives.
The dependent variables
The main feature of this set of data is that the necessary question to test the
dependent variable is missing. However, there are two variables V96 “Income Inequality”
(ranging from Incomes should be made more equal to We need larger income differences
as incentives for individuals) and V131 “Democracy: Governments tax the rich and
subsidize the poor” (ranging from It is essential for democracy to It is not essential to
democracy). Both those variable pertain to the idea of income redistribution from
wealthier to poorer population which is essentially a characteristic of the welfare state.
Therefore I employ both variables for Russia and the USA. However, for the USA I also
For more information go to http://www.worldvaluessurvey.org/wvs.jsp
create an index which combines two variables (V131 and V96) together to make a stronger
statement about an impact of the independent variable.
Variable V131 “Democracy: Governments tax the rich and subsidize the poor” for
Russia and the USA has also been recoded (flipped) to fit the pattern of the other variables.
The independent variable
The independent variable V94 “Government responsibility” (ranging from The
government should take more responsibility to ensure that everyone is provided for to
People should take more responsibility to provide for themselves). This question reflects
the paternalistic attitude that it is government’s responsibility to take care of its people.
To test how other cultural traits influence the dependent variables I will use
religious view and political ideology. Since Russian and American population would
understand political ideology differently the question have been created from “left” to
“right” where leftists tend to support redistribution and more social programs while rights
are more likely to lean toward “smaller” government with fewer taxes.
The government should take more
responsibility to ensure that everyone is
People should take more responsibility to
provide for themselves
Significantly more Russian respondents agree with that statement “The
government should take more responsibility to ensure that everyone is provided for”
(44,3%) and the pattern is observer according to which there is a decline in the number of
those who thinks otherwise. Only 3,9% of Russians think that people should take care of
Governments tax the
rich and subsidize the
Independent Variable: Government responsibility
As it is seen from the table 2, there is a significant impact of the independent
variable Government responsibility on Income Inequality. Positive relationship between
them conveys the fact that the more Russians support the idea that it is governmental
responsibility to ensure all people are taken care of, the more likely they are in support of
the income equality. This narrative has been long one of defining Russian political culture
that has its roots in socialistic narrative. However, the other dependent variable
Democracy: Governments tax the rich and subsidize the poor, albeit has significance,
shows less assuring result. Russian population seems to be unlikely correlate the taxation
system and government’s responsibilities. It can be explained by insignificance of the tax
question for public politics. Russian people do not pay many taxes themselves from their
income, nor do they have to fill out tax forms. Taxation is never an issue among politicians.
It may be the reason why in social consciousness taxation and government are not strongly
As Table 3 shows, after adding additional independent variables “Self-positioning
in political scale” to test V96 “Income Inequality”, “Highest educational level attained”,
“Age”, “Scale of incomes” (see Table 3) together 5 independent variables explain 22,2% of
the variance of Income Inequality.
Scale of incomes
Dependent Variable: V96 “Income Inequality”
Apparently, ideology has a significant importance for endorsement of the equal
redistribution of income. People, who identify themselves as leftists, tend to support equal
income. Unlike political ideology, education albeit has a significant impact on income
equality, nevertheless is not that decisive in how people perceive income equality. Sex does
not have significant impact on the Income equality variable.
Yong people in Russia seem to be more willing to agree that income may be less
equal. That can be explain by their socialization in modern capitalist Russia where levels of
incomes tend to be dependent on one’s abilities and willingness to work more and harder to
get more money. Same can be said about wealthier people who earned their income and
would not support redistribution.
The United States of America
The government should take more
responsibility to ensure that
everyone is provided for
People should take more
responsibility to provide for
As Table 2 shows, American respondents are less willing to express the
paternalistic attitude toward the state. Only 7,9% agree the it is governmental responsibility
to make sure that citizens are taken care of. 19,2% said people should take more
responsibility to provide for themselves.
V96 “Income Inequality”
Governments tax the
rich and subsidize the
Independent Variable: Government responsibility
Table 2 shows that the independent variable Government responsibility
significantly influences both dependent variables Income Inequality and Democracy:
Governments tax the rich and subsidize the poor. Positive relationships between them
signify that there more respondent agree that the government should provide for people the
more likely they are to support income equality and higher taxes for richer people.
As was mentioned above to show a clearer relationship between paternalistic
attitude expressed as government responsibility and attitude toward welfare the index was
created combining both variables together.
Independent Variable: Government responsibility
The index shows even stronger impact of the independent variable on the
Now, using the index, I will add additional independent variables such as Selfpositioning in political scale, Highest educational level attained, Age, Sex, and Scale of
incomes to see how it will affect the index.
t score Significance
Scale of incomes
Dependent Variable: Index “Liberal value frame”
All the selected variables showed their significance in relations to the Index.
Altogether, they explain 33,1% of the variance in in the Index. But there is some specificity
observed. As the table shows, ideology plays a very important role in explaining people’s
attitude toward issues of redistribution of income and taxation. People identified with left
values tend to support welfare, taxation and income equality while “rights” tend to oppose
those. People with higher educational level as well as income level are more likely to back
the idea that income should be redistributed and there should be fewer taxes for wealthy
people. Negative relationship between Age and the Index shows that women in the USA are
more likely to be in favor of more equal redistribution of income and taxation of wealthier
Paternalistic attitude or a system of relations between the people and the state in
which the authorities ensure the needs of the citizens, who, in exchange, permit to dictate a
certain type of behaviors, both public and private shows its presence in both countries,
albeit not equally. Russian population tends to be lining toward the idea that government
has to express concern with problems its population has, while American people are less
likely to support that claim.
Russian respondents do not seem to juxtapose taxation and income which
American respondent do. That can be explained by the fact that most Russians do not pay
taxes themselves (income tax, for example, is withheld from wages by the employers), nor it
is the taxation a political issue. At the same time, American political culture was built on
the question of taxation and taxes are always a part of public political discussion and
Age is also important in its relationship to the question to income equality. Russian
youth are socialized in a different political regime with capitalist economy. They want to
work and earn, hence be better off while older people still think that incomes should be
distributed equally, smoothing disparities. In the USA the age is not that important.
However, Sex is more important in the USA rather than in Russia in its impact on the issue
of income equality and taxation. American females are more likely to support flatter
income earning. That is not observed in Russian data set.
Also political bias is way more important in its impact on the issues of taxation and
income quality in the USA than it is in Russia. It seems in the USA leftists tend to support
redistribution of income and taxing the rich more. For Russia the same issue has twice as
less significance than it does for the USA. Russian people in general are less politically
biased in a sense of ideological cleavages. The plural party system has existed in Russia
only for 25 years and it shows a tendency to drift toward the system with one dominant
Russian population is quantitatively more paternalistic 6 than American population
is. However, we may see that in both countries those people who express paternalistic
attitude tend to support income equality at approximately the same intensity. Hence,
regardless of countries, paternalism is tightly connected to welfare, higher taxation of
richer people and income equality.
More than 50% of respondents agree and somehow agree that the government should take care of its
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