English title: Economic Development, Income Inequality, and Preferences for Redistribution

Author(s): Michelle L. Dion - Vicki Birchfield -

Language: English

Type: Journal article

Year: 2010


Adopting a cross-regional and global perspective, this article critically evaluates one of the core assertions of political economy approaches to welfare—that support for redistribution is inversely related to income. We hypothesize that economic self-interest gives way to more uniform support for redistribution in the interest of ensuring that basic or relative needs are met in less developed and highly unequal societies. To test this hypothesis, we analyze individual-level surveys combined with country-level indicators for more than 50 countries between 1984 and 2004. Our analysis shows that individual-level income does not systematically explain support for redistribution in countries with low levels of economic development or high levels of income inequality. These findings challenge the universality of the assumption of economic self-interest in shaping preferences for redistribution that has been so pervasive in the literature.

Volume: 54

Issue: 2

From page no: 315

To page no: 334

Refereed: Yes

DOI: 10.1111/J.1468-2478.2010.00589.X

Journal: International Studies Quarterly

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