Inequality and Participative Democracy. A Self‐Reinforcing Mechanism

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Abstract

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
JournalReview of Income and Wealth
Early online date28 Nov 2018
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Nov 2018

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Democracy
Participation
Distribution of income
Political participation
Economic inequality
European countries
Exclusion
Income inequality
OECD countries
Legitimacy

Keywords

  • income inequality
  • political participation
  • redistribution

Cite this

@article{bcb8d567919240019a27b8aaa60b29fa,
title = "Inequality and Participative Democracy. A Self‐Reinforcing Mechanism",
abstract = "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.",
keywords = "income inequality, political participation, redistribution",
author = "Ioannis Theodossiou and Alexandros Zangelidis",
note = "We are grateful to the editor and two anonymous referees for constructive comments and suggestions. We also thank the seminar participants at the University of Aberdeen and the University of Dundee for valuable comments on an earlier version of the paper. All remaining errors are ours.",
year = "2018",
month = "11",
day = "28",
doi = "10.1111/roiw.12401",
language = "English",
journal = "Review of Income and Wealth",
issn = "0034-6586",
publisher = "Wiley-Blackwell",

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T1 - Inequality and Participative Democracy. A Self‐Reinforcing Mechanism

AU - Theodossiou, Ioannis

AU - Zangelidis, Alexandros

N1 - We are grateful to the editor and two anonymous referees for constructive comments and suggestions. We also thank the seminar participants at the University of Aberdeen and the University of Dundee for valuable comments on an earlier version of the paper. All remaining errors are ours.

PY - 2018/11/28

Y1 - 2018/11/28

N2 - 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.

AB - 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.

KW - income inequality

KW - political participation

KW - redistribution

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DO - 10.1111/roiw.12401

M3 - Article

JO - Review of Income and Wealth

JF - Review of Income and Wealth

SN - 0034-6586

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