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Does inequality harm democracy? An empirical investigation on the UK

Author

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  • A. Soci
  • A. Maccagnan
  • D. Mantovani

Abstract

This paper presents an empirical investigation about the effect of an increase in economic inequality on some aspects of the quality of a democracy. The main novelty of the paper lies in its methodology: it applies to a single country (instead of a pool of countries) - the UK - in a long run perspective. Using survey data, we select three questions and check whether an increase in inequality alters the answers to these questions, subject to other control variables. Another novelty is the use of several measures of inequality (rather than the usual GINI only) both for disentangling what happens in the different parts of the income distribution and for avoiding the dependence of the results on the choice of the indicator. The main finding is that a higher level of income inequality impacts negatively on citizens’ satisfaction with democracy and positively on their political participation.

Suggested Citation

  • A. Soci & A. Maccagnan & D. Mantovani, 2014. "Does inequality harm democracy? An empirical investigation on the UK," Working Papers wp935, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
  • Handle: RePEc:bol:bodewp:wp935
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    File URL: http://amsacta.unibo.it/3996/1/WP935.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Li, Hongyi & Squire, Lyn & Zou, Heng-fu, 1998. "Explaining International and Intertemporal Variations in Income Inequality," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(446), pages 26-43, January.
    2. Sunde, Uwe & Cervellati, Matteo & Fortunato, Piergiuseppe, 2008. "Are all democracies equally good? The role of interactions between political environment and inequality for rule of law," Economics Letters, Elsevier, pages 552-556.
    3. James Foster & Michael Wolfson, 2010. "Polarization and the decline of the middle class: Canada and the U.S," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 8(2), pages 247-273, June.
    4. Frederick Solt, 2004. "Economic Inequality and Democratic Political Engagement," LIS Working papers 385, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
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    1. repec:psl:pslqrr:2017:22 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D33 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Factor Income Distribution
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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