Inequality and Participative Democracy. A Self‐Reinforcing Mechanism

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During the last three decades, a notable increase in economic inequality is observed, accompanied by a decline in people's engagement in politics and electoral participation. This is an unsatisfactory phenomenon as it undermines the legitimacy of democratic representation. This negative association is produced by a complex salient mechanism. This study aims at investigating this issue. Using data from a panel of 28 OECD and European countries, this paper identifies the two-way causal relationship between inequality and political participation. The results show that greater income inequality alienates and discourages people from engaging with common affairs, thus leading to lower political participation. Yet, lower electoral participation leads towards a less equitable distribution of income. Hence, this study reveals a self-reinforcing mechanism where the unequal distribution of income leads to political exclusion, which in turn leads to more inequality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-93
Number of pages20
JournalReview of Income and Wealth
Issue number1
Early online date28 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020



  • income inequality
  • political participation
  • redistribution
  • Income inequality
  • Political participation
  • Redistribution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics

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