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Liza G. Steele – Wealth and preferences for redistribution: The effects of financial assets and home equity in 31 countries

Liza G. Steele (faculty) published an article titled “Wealth and preferences for redistribution: The effects of financial assets and home equity in 31 countries” in International Journal of Comparative Sociology (online first)

How does wealth affect preferences for redistribution? In general, social scientists have largely neglected to study the social effects of wealth. This neglect was partially due to a dearth of data on household wealth and social outcomes, and also to greater scholarly interest in how wealth has been accumulated rather than the social effects of wealth. While we would expect household wealth to be an important component of attitudes toward inequality and social welfare policies, research in this area is scarce. In this study, the relationship between wealth and preferences for redistribution is examined in cross-national global and comparative perspective using data on 31 countries from the 2009 wave of the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP), the first wave of that study to include measures of wealth. The findings presented compare the effects of two types of wealth—financial assets and home equity—and demonstrate that there are differences in effects by asset type and by redistributive policy in question. Financial wealth is more closely associated with attitudes about income equality, while home equity is more closely associated with attitudes about unemployment benefits. Moreover, while the upper categories of financial wealth have the largest negative effects on support for income equality, it is the middle categories of home equity that are most strongly associated with opposition to unemployment benefits. Effects also differ by country, but not in patterns that theories of comparative welfare states nor political economy would adequately explain.