IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Reinvestigating the Reciprocal Relationship between Democracy and Income Inequality


  • Carl Henrik Knutsen


Few social science relationships have spawned as much interest -- or as many elaborate theoretical models and arguments -- as that between democracy and income inequality. However, the empirical literature has generally employed statistical models based on problematic assumptions, and has produced quite mixed results. Hence, this paper makes an important empirical contribution by applying models that, for instance, account for endogeneity biases and control for country-specific effects. Despite being correlated, there is very little evidence of any effect of income inequality on level of democracy once employing appropriate model specifications. Furthermore, there is no robust evidence that inequality systematically affects either democratization prospects or democratic stability. In contrast, there is evidence that democracy reduces income inequality when inequality is proxied by share of income going to wages. However, also this effect is sensitive to choice of inequality measure. Democracy does, for instance, not reduce inequalities in disposable household incomes.

Suggested Citation

  • Carl Henrik Knutsen, 2015. "Reinvestigating the Reciprocal Relationship between Democracy and Income Inequality," Review of Economics and Institutions, Universit√† di Perugia, vol. 6(2).
  • Handle: RePEc:pia:review:v:6:y:2015:i:2:n:1

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Requires registration. Users must be registered and log in to access full text

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    More about this item


    Democracy; Income Inequality; Democratization; Democratic stability; Wage income; Redistribution;

    JEL classification:

    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • P00 - Economic Systems - - General - - - General


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pia:review:v:6:y:2015:i:2:n:1. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Ubaldo Pizzoli). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.