Inequality, public opinion and redistribution

Lane Kenworthy*, Leslie Mccall

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

155 Scopus citations


According to the 'median-voter' hypothesis, greater inequality in the market distribution of earnings or income tends to produce greater generosity in redistributive policy. We outline the steps in the causal chain specified by the hypothesis and attempt to assess these steps empirically. Prior studies focusing on cross-country variation have found little support for the median-voter model. We examine over-time trends in eight nations during the 1980s and 1990s. Here too the median-voter hypothesis appears to have little utility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-68
Number of pages34
JournalSocio-Economic Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008


  • Inequality
  • Public opinion
  • Redistribution
  • Welfare state

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)

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