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The media coverage of wealth and inheritance taxation in Germany

Hendrik Theine ()

Department of Economics Working Paper Series from WU Vienna University of Economics and Business

Abstract: Based on the political economy of the media perspective, this paper explores the media coverage of wealth and inheritance taxation over the early 21st century (2000 to 2018) based on a large-scale corpus of seven German daily and weekly newspapers. Germany is a useful case study, being one of the most unequal countries in the Eurozone area in terms of wealth inequality. Drawing on text mining methods and corpus linguistics, it shows that wealth and inheritance taxation is a relatively infrequent topic over the entire period, with the exception of a few intense months of increased reporting. On the occasions that the media do report on the topic of wealth and inheritance taxation, it is mainly covered in terms of a political debate. This debate centres on the politics of a possible reform process and the connected difficulties of finding compromise between different actors, rather than focussing on the potential economic impact. Furthermore, this paper explores the power of agents (both on the organisational and individual level) as the primary definers of social reality. It shows that market-liberal and conservative organisations and economists dominate the news over social-democratic and left-wing ones. Overall, the findings indicate a hostile news coverage concerning the introduction of wealth taxation and the increase of inheritance tax.

Keywords: wealth taxation; economic inequality; media coverage of redistribution policies; critical discourse analysis; political economy of the media (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-hme and nep-pub
Date: 2019-08
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