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Inequality Perceptions, Preferences Conducive to Redistribution, and the Conditioning Role of Social Position

Matthias Fatke ()
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Matthias Fatke: Department of Political Science, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, München 80539, Germany

Societies, 2018, vol. 8, issue 4, 1-14

Abstract: Inequality poses one of the biggest challenges of our time. It is not self-correcting in the sense that citizens demand more redistributive measures in light of rising inequality, which recent studies suggest may be due to the fact that citizens’ perceptions of inequality diverge from objective levels. Moreover, it is not the latter, but the former, which are related to preferences conducive to redistribution. However, the nascent literature on inequality perceptions has, so far, not accounted for the role of subjective position in society. The paper advances the argument that the relationship between inequality perceptions and preferences towards redistribution is conditional on the subjective position of respondents. To that end, I analyze comprehensive survey data on inequality perceptions from the social inequality module of the International Social Survey Programme (1992, 1999, and 2009). Results show that inequality perceptions are associated with preferences conducive to redistribution particularly among those perceived to be at the top of the social ladder. Gaining a better understanding of inequality perceptions contributes to comprehending the absence self-correcting inequality.

Keywords: inequality; perceptions; redistribution; social rank; system justification (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: A13 A14 P P0 P1 P2 P3 P4 P5 Z1 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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