Economic Inequality and the Representation of the Poor
A significant body of research has demonstrated that the policy preferences of the affluent are generally better represented in liberal democracies. Building on these findings, the authors attempt to measure if higher levels of income inequality affect representation of the less affluent.
Using data from the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems (CSES) and the Standardised World Income Inequality Database, the policy preferences of the major parties and governments of more then 20 advanced democracies across nearly 50 elections were analysed in comparison to the preferences of lower-income citizens.
The results show that 'in economically more unequal societies, the party system represents the preferences of relatively poor citizens worse than in more equal societies'. The authors conclude that beyond its social and economic issues, high income inequality 'carries important implications for the functioning of democracy and the equal consideration of the preferences of all societal groups'.
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