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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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  • Robert Andersen & Yaish, M. (Meir), 2012. "GINI DP 48: Public Opinion on Income Inequality in 20 Democracies: The Enduring Impact of Social Class and Economic Inequality," GINI Discussion Papers 48, AIAS, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:aia:ginidp:48
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    1. Alesina, Alberto & La Ferrara, Eliana, 2005. "Preferences for redistribution in the land of opportunities," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(5-6), pages 897-931, June.
    2. Leslie McCall & Lane Kenworthy, 2007. "Inequality, Public Opinion, and Redistribution," LIS Working papers 459, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    3. Frederick Solt, 2009. "Standardizing the World Income Inequality Database," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 90(2), pages 231-242.
    4. Frederick Solt, 2009. "Standardizing the World Income Inequality Database," LIS Working papers 496, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
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    Keywords

    attitudes; social class; economic inequality; social mobility; contextual effects;

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