Poor versus rich countries: a gap in public attitudes towards fiscal solidarity in the EU
Existing research has primarily focused on the role of utility and identity in shaping individuals’ European Union (EU) preferences. This article argues that macroeconomic context is a crucial predictor of attitudes towards transnational financial assistance, which has been omitted from previous analyses. Using data from the 2014 European Election Studies (EES) Voter Study for 28 EU member states, this article demonstrates that citizens living in poorer EU countries are less willing to support fiscal solidarity than their counterparts in more affluent countries. Country affluence serves as a heuristic, moderating the relationship between individual-level utility and identity considerations and willingness to show solidarity to member states with economic difficulties. When a country does not fare well economically, citizens’ views on providing help to others remain negative, irrespective of individual-level utilitarian and identity considerations. Our findings have implications for understanding the decision-making calculus underlying preference formation.