|Universiteit van Amsterdam
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This dissertation presents a comparative study concerning the role of contextual inequality for self-regarding and other-regarding individual attitudes. Contextual inequality is expressed in terms of distributional and institutional factors - income inequality and welfare state effort on a national level. The central question is whether self-regarding attitudes and people’s eagerness to contribute to the welfare of others are more prevalent in egalitarian or inegalitarian societies, and whether these ‘contextual effects’ vary depending on individuals’ own socio-economic status. The research is based on quantitative analysis using data from international comparative surveys in the European region and employing advanced statistical methods. The combination of between- and within-country over-time empirical evidence adds to the strength of the findings of this dissertation. This dissertation demonstrates that people differ in their solidary pursuits and self-oriented pursuits, and contextual inequality can explain some of these differences. There is some evidence that self-orientation in terms of status-seeking is more prevalent in inegalitarian contexts. The findings for solidary attitudes are more mixed and depend on particular circumstances and the type of solidarity. The results suggest that in inegalitarian contexts people are less solidary towards particular (weaker) social groups (e.g., the unemployed and the sick); generalized solidarity, however, appears to be higher in inegalitarian contexts.