Economic Inequality and U.S. Public Policy Mood Across Space and Time
© 2015, © The Author(s) 2015. While classic theories suggest that growing inequality will generate mass support for redistribution, recent research suggests the opposite: increases in inequality in the United States are associated with decreases in support for redistribution among both low and high income citizens. We reconsider this conclusion. First, we examine the methods of this research, and find that the claims made are not robust to important corrections in model specification. We then utilize a distinct methodological approach, leveraging spatial variation in local inequality, and examine average differences in preferences across geographic context. Here we find a small, but positive relationship of inequality to support for redistribution. In both our reexamination of previous work and our extensions, we find little support for the claim that inequality reduces the demand for redistribution.
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