Skip to main content

Why hasn't democracy slowed rising inequality?

Author(s): Bonica, Adam; McCarty, Nolan; Poole, Keith T.; Rosenthal, Howard L.

To refer to this page use:
Full metadata record
DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.authorBonica, Adam-
dc.contributor.authorMcCarty, Nolan-
dc.contributor.authorPoole, Keith T.-
dc.contributor.authorRosenthal, Howard L.-
dc.identifier.citationBonica, A, McCarty, N, Poole, KT, Rosenthal, H. (2013). Why hasn't democracy slowed rising inequality?. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 27 (3), 103 - 124. doi:10.1257/jep.27.3.103en_US
dc.description.abstractDuring the past two generations, democratic forms have coexisted with massive increases in economic inequality in the United States and many other advanced democracies. Moreover, these new inequalities have primarily benefited the top 1 percent and even the top .01 percent. These groups seem sufficiently small that economic inequality could be held in check by political equality in the form of "one person, one vote." In this paper, we explore five possible reasons why the US political system has failed to counterbalance rising inequality. First, both Republicans and many Democrats have experienced an ideological shift toward acceptance of a form of free market capitalism that offers less support for government provision of transfers, lower marginal tax rates for those with high incomes, and deregulation of a number of industries. Second, immigration and low turnout of the poor have combined to make the distribution of voters more weighted to high incomes than is the distribution of households. Third, rising real income and wealth has made a larger fraction of the population less attracted to turning to government for social insurance. Fourth, the rich have been able to use their resources to influence electoral, legislative, and regulatory processes through campaign contributions, lobbying, and revolving door employment of politicians and bureaucrats. Fifth, the political process is distorted by institutions that reduce the accountability of elected officials to the majority and hampered by institutions that combine with political polarization to create policy gridlock.en_US
dc.format.extent1 - 22en_US
dc.relation.ispartofJournal of Economic Perspectivesen_US
dc.rightsFinal published version. Article is made available in OAR by the publisher's permission or policy.en_US
dc.titleWhy hasn't democracy slowed rising inequality?en_US
dc.typeJournal Articleen_US

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
jep.27.3.103.pdf223.96 kBAdobe PDFView/Download

Items in OAR@Princeton are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.