Inequality and Participative Democracy: A Self‐Reinforcing Mechanism

20 Pages Posted: 6 Jun 2020

See all articles by Ioannis Theodossiou

Ioannis Theodossiou

University of Aberdeen - Business School

Alexandros Zangelidis

University of Aberdeen - Business School

Date Written: March 2020

Abstract

During the last three decades, a notable increase in economic inequality is observed, accompanied by a decline in people's engagement in politics and electoral participation. This is an unsatisfactory phenomenon as it undermines the legitimacy of democratic representation. This negative association is produced by a complex salient mechanism. This study aims at investigating this issue. Using data from a panel of 28 OECD and European countries, this paper identifies a two‐way causal relationship between inequality and political participation. The results show that greater income inequality alienates and discourages people from engaging with common affairs, thus leading to lower political participation. Yet, lower electoral participation leads towards a less equitable distribution of income. Hence, this study reveals a self‐reinforcing mechanism where the unequal distribution of income leads to political exclusion, which in turn leads to more inequality.

Keywords: Income inequality, Political participation, Redistribution

Suggested Citation

Theodossiou, Ioannis and Zangelidis, Alexandros, Inequality and Participative Democracy: A Self‐Reinforcing Mechanism (March 2020). Review of Income and Wealth, Vol. 66, Issue 1, pp. 74-93, 2020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3619354 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/roiw.12401

Ioannis Theodossiou (Contact Author)

University of Aberdeen - Business School ( email )

Edward Wright Building
Dunbar Street
Aberdeen, Scotland AB24 3QY
United Kingdom

Alexandros Zangelidis

University of Aberdeen - Business School ( email )

Edward Wright Building
Dunbar Street
Aberdeen, Scotland AB24 3QY
United Kingdom

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