Why does citizens' knowledge of new policy vary between municipalities? The case of the Social Support Act

J. Hoff, M. Cardol, R.D. Friele

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Providing information to citizens is an important first step in the implementation of new policy. In this study we explain differences in the knowledge of citizens between municipalities of a newly introduced law in the Netherlands, the Social Support Act, 10 months after it became into force. This law is especially important for older people that need support in their daily functioning and participation. We focused on two aspects of knowledge related to the act, i.e. having heard of the new act, and knowing how voice with regard to policy on support is organised in the place of residence. Given that socialist local governments focus more on social topics than liberal local governments, we expected citizens of municipalities with socialist councils to have more knowledge about the new Social Support Act. Contrary to our expectations, citizens from municipalities where a liberal party or a collaboration of liberal/socialist parties is the largest, have a better understanding of how voice is organised. On the other hand, citizens in municipalities with an alderman from a combination of liberal/socialist parties have a lower chance of having heard of the Social Support Act. We argue that in view of the Social Support Act, the ideology of a local government related to citizens' responsibilities (liberal view) may have more influence on citizens' knowledge than being a government that pays attention to social issues (socialist view). As far as individual differences between citizens are concerned, as expected, older people that are more educated but in poorer health status have more knowledge about the new act. A higher educational level and an excellent mental health status are related to more knowledge about voice. Educational level is the most powerful predictor for knowledge about the act.
Keywords: Differences between municipalities, multi-level analysis, local social policy, informing citizens
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)816-832
JournalLocal Government Studies
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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