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Is democracy about redistribution?

Knutsen, Carl Henrik
Published in Democratization. 2016, vol. 23, no. 1, p. 164-192
Abstract Some scholars champion broad conceptualizations of democracy where distribution of economic resources is an integral part, whereas several prominent arguments drawing on narrower conceptualizations of democracy still assume that progressive redistribution is central to democratic politics. We empirically analyse individual opinions on whether progressive taxation and redistribution are among democracy's central characteristics. While many citizens around the world associate democracy with redistribution, we find that surprisingly few consider redistribution among the most central characteristics of democracy. We further analyse what factors affect individuals' propensity to consider redistribution among democracy's most important features. Running multi-level models, we find that having lived under a communist regime and − although less robust – currently living under democracy make individuals less likely to hold this notion. However, individuals with more to gain from progressive redistribution (that is, little education and belonging to lower classes) are more likely to hold it. We discuss how our findings help shed light on two puzzles in comparative politics; (I) why do democracies not promote more redistributive policies than autocracies, and (II) why is there no net relationship between income inequality and democratization?
Keywords DemocracyRedistributionIncome inequalityCommunismClass
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KNUTSEN, Carl Henrik, WEGMANN, Simone. Is democracy about redistribution?. In: Democratization, 2016, vol. 23, n° 1, p. 164-192. doi: 10.1080/13510347.2015.1094460 https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:80130

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Deposited on : 2016-01-29

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