Social dependency mentality in Romania - consequence of path dependence or result of social protection policies?
This paper discusses whether the social dependency mentality in Romania is a consequence of path (past) dependence (that is, the country’s cultural and historical inheritance), or of the failure of social protection policies implemented after 1990. By taking a deductive approach and using data from Eurobarometers and several international databases, as well as by conducting several statistical analyses, we first identify the socio-economic and institutional factors associated with social dependency mentality in former communist countries, today members of the EU. Drawing on the results obtained, we then characterize the situation in Romania and provide explanations on two levels: dependence mentality as cultural inheritance - hypothesis supported by sociological, psychological and cultural-anthropological studies - and dependence mentality as a consequence of the implemented social protection policies which did not solve the issue of poverty but rather speak about incoherence, lack of vision, populism etc. We conclude that social dependency mentality is associated with the burden of the past, but also with the level and quality of education and the government strength to implement policies and provide incentives for individual responsibility in a free market. The limitations in terms of data coverage do not allow us to establish the exact weight each of the factors has in explaining social dependency mentality and, consequently, further studies are necessary considering the importance this issue currently has in poverty reduction.
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