The Origins of Political Inequality: Economic and Political Life-Courses of Siblings

22 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009 Last revised: 4 Sep 2009

See all articles by Martin Kroh

Martin Kroh

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) - German Socio Economic Panel

Date Written: 2009

Abstract

The equality of political voice is a cornerstone of liberal democracy. In practice, however, economically well-o ff individuals are more likely to be politically active than citizens at the lower end of the status hierarchy. This paper scrutinizes the common interpretation of this association established in many cross-sectional surveys as reflecting a causal e ffect of socio-economic status on political voice. Drawing on long-term panel data and natural experiments, the paper shows that a change in socio-economic status only has minor impact on individuals' political mobilization. Moreover, this eff ect can go in both directions. Investigating the eff ect of income, occupation, and education on political involvement and action in siblings corroborates the panel results. That is, a fi nancially successful sibling is not more politically active than his or her less successful brother or sister. This implies that much of the diff erence in political voice across status groups originates in the family background and in stable across the lifecourse. The fi ndings in this paper raise doubts on the validity of both the resource approach and the deprivation approach to political participation, and support the infrequently cited habitus approach.

Suggested Citation

Kroh, Martin, The Origins of Political Inequality: Economic and Political Life-Courses of Siblings (2009). APSA 2009 Toronto Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1451267

Martin Kroh (Contact Author)

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) - German Socio Economic Panel ( email )

DIW Berlin
Berlin, Berlin 14191
Germany

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