This article presents a national measure of Americans’ level of concern about economic inequality from 1966 to 2015, and analyzes the relationship between this construct and public support for government intervention in the economy. Current research argues that concerns about economic inequality are associated with a desire for increased government action, but this relationship has only been formally tested using cross-sectional analyses. I first use a form of dynamic factor analysis to develop a measure of national concern over time. Using an error correction model I then show that an increase in national concern about economic inequality does not lead to a subsequent increase in support for government intervention in the economy. Instead there is some evidence that, once confounding factors are accounted for, an increase in concern could lead to reduced support for government intervention.
That is from a new paper by Graham Wright, via the excellent Rolf Degen. I think of one possible mechanism for this result in these terms. As one group of commentators repeats the message: “Group X doesn’t have enough,” or “Group X is being ripped off,” in fact many voters process the message as “Group X is actually a low status group.” And so they do not end up supporting more redistribution to Group X.
“Be careful how complain” is one of the overarching points here, and it is a point which is not heeded so very often.