This article examines evidence for the possible link between public support for increased spending on government welfare programs and the strength of government welfare intervention in six OECD countries; Austria, Germany, Britain, the USA, Australia and Italy. Data is used from a 1985 international survey to question the congruence between the public's support for state welfare and the degree of corporatism as an indicator of state intervention in these countries. The concept of corporatism is limited to an analytic device that indicates the form of state intervention and policy making in particular historical periods and within sectors of state activity. The argument that state welfare action is directly constrained by public attitudes to welfare-the 'popular constraints' thesis-is questioned using this data. Other possible explanations for the lack of congruence between mass preferences and state welfare provision are also examined.

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