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Solt, Frederick
Ritakallio, Veli-Matti
Year of Publication: 
Series/Report no.: 
LIS Working Paper Series 385
Since Aristotle, who observed that great economic inequality leads the wealthy to seek a share of power matching their share of resources and so to subvert democratic government, scholars of politics have theorized that the proper functioning of a democracy depends on a relatively equal distribution of economic resources. Inequality, though, has been rising in the nearly all of the world's rich and upper-middle-income democracies since the at least the mid-1980s, and in many countries this trend began in the early 1970s. Examining individual behavior in twenty-four countries at multiple points in time, this paper investigates whether increases in economic inequality have had a negative effect on the functioning of democracy, focusing specifically on citizens' political engagement. It finds that contexts of greater income inequality reduce interest in politics, views of government responsiveness, and participation in elections.
Document Type: 
Working Paper

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