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GINI DP 48: Public Opinion on Income Inequality in 20 Democracies: The Enduring Impact of Social Class and Economic Inequality

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    Utilizing International Social Survey Program (ISSP) data, we explore the relationship between economic inequality—both at the individual-level and the national-level—and attitudes toward income inequality in 20 capitalist societies. Our findings suggest that experience of economic inequality has an enduring effect on attitudes. Specifically, respondents’ own social class and their father’s social class are both significantly related to attitudes, with working class individuals tending to be more egalitarian in their views than others. Still, our findings also suggest that attitudes are unrelated to experience of social mobility per se. Tests for random effects of class origin and destination further demonstrate that class has a similar effect across societies. In terms of contextual influences, we demonstrate that as income inequality rises, people of all classes tend to have less egalitarian views. In contrast to suggestions of previous research, however, we find no evidence that economic development or equality of opportunity influence public opinion on what is considered fair income differences.

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    Paper provided by AIAS, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies in its series GINI Discussion Papers with number 48.

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    Date of creation: Jul 2012
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    Handle: RePEc:aia:ginidp:48
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    1. Alberto Alesina & Eliana La Ferrara, 2001. "Preferences for Redistribution in the Land of Opportunities," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1936, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    2. Frederick Solt, 2009. "Standardizing the World Income Inequality Database," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 90(2), pages 231-242.
    3. La Ferrara, Eliana & Alesina, Alberto, 2005. "Preferences for Redistribution in the Land of Opportunities," Scholarly Articles 4552533, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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