Knutsen, Carl Henrik and Simone Wegmann. 2016. “Is Democracy about Redistribution?”
Several prominent arguments in the social sciences draw on the assumption that progressive redistribution is a central feature of democratic politics. Applying this premise, it is, for instance, argued that the poor should favor democracy, whereas rich elites should be antagonistic. In this paper, we conduct an empirical investigation of the assumption by analyzing individual opinions about whether progressive taxation and redistribution is among the central characteristics of democracy. We further analyze what factors make individuals more or less likely to consider redistribution a central aspect of democracy. We discuss how our findings may contribute to explain two of the central puzzles in comparative politics, I) why do democracies not promote more redistributive policies than autocracies, and II) why is there no net empirical relationship between income inequality and democratization.
Published article: Knutsen, Carl Henrik and Simone Wegmann. 2016. Is democracy about redistribution? Democratization 23(1): 164-192. Article