Scientific article
Open access

“Caught in the Middle! Wealth Inequality and Conflict over Redistribution”

Published inSocial justice research, 26 p.
Publication date2022-01-29
First online date2022-01-29

A vast literature documents that wealth inequality has risen throughout advanced democracies, especially the accumulation of wealth among the rich. Yet, instead of increasing wealth redistribution, governments have done the seemingly opposite. Key to understanding why democratic governments do not increase wealth redistribution in times of rising inequalities is to shed light on the public's preferences. In this paper, we map the public's redistributive preferences in fourteen countries based on new survey data. We show that traditional socioeconomic cleavages in preferences for wealth redistribution are undermined by diverging mobility expectations. People who expect to climb up the wealth distribution, mostly lower wealth groups, are less supportive of redistribution than people with high stakes of major wealth losses, mainly upper wealth groups. We show that future expectations among the rich and the poor have a highly moderating role for the class conflict over wealth redistribution. Moreover, the middle class, the decisive group in democracies, is highly unresponsive to future prospects. The findings suggest that the middle class does not have much to lose or to win, and therefore, wealth redistribution is of low salience among this group.

  • inequality
  • wealth redistribution
  • preferences for redistribution
  • POUM
  • Wealth mobility
  • Middle class
  • European Commission - Unequal Democracies [741538]
Citation (ISO format)
LIERSE, Hanna, LASCOMBES, Davy-Kim, BECKER, Bastian. “Caught in the Middle! Wealth Inequality and Conflict over Redistribution”. In: Social justice research, 2022, p. 26 p. doi: 10.1007/s11211-021-00384-x
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal0885-7466

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