Journal Article

What if Robin Hood is a social conservative? How the political response to increasing inequality depends on party polarization

Henning Finseraas

in Socio-Economic Review

Published on behalf of Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics

Volume 8, issue 2, pages 283-306
Published in print April 2010 | ISSN: 1475-1461
Published online June 2009 | e-ISSN: 1475-147X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ser/mwp012
What if Robin Hood is a social conservative? How the political response to increasing inequality depends on party polarization

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This paper examines how political competition on a non-economic dimension affects redistribution. More specifically, the paper argues that a high degree of party polarization on a non-economic policy dimension modifies the political response to growing income inequalities. Data from the World Values Survey and the Comparative Manifesto Project are employed to show that party polarization on a traditional moral dimension of politics is associated with a weaker relationship between income and subjective position on the Left–Right scale. Because party polarization is associated with a weaker relationship between income and leftism, the paper claims that the political response to increases in inequality will be weaker in polarized countries. The empirical analysis using redistribution data from the Luxembourg Income Study demonstrates that the positive effect of increases in market inequality on redistribution is lower when party polarization on the non-economic dimension is high.

Keywords: redistribution; inequality; self-interest; H20 taxation, subsidies and revenue; H050 national government, expenditures and related policies; I30 welfare and poverty

Journal Article.  8574 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Moral Philosophy ; Corporate Social Responsibility ; Welfare Economics ; Political Economy ; Economic Sociology

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