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Religions 2017, 8(5), 97; doi:10.3390/rel8050097

Growing Economic Inequality and Its (Partially) Political Roots

1
Department of Political Science, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467, USA
2
Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California–Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
3
Department of Government, Harvard University; Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Kate Ward and Kenneth Himes
Received: 13 February 2017 / Revised: 2 May 2017 / Accepted: 2 May 2017 / Published: 18 May 2017
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Abstract

Growing economic inequality fosters inequality in the political processes of American democracy. Since the 1970’s inequalities in earnings and wealth have increased dramatically in the United States creating a higher level of inequality in disposable income than in other developed democracies. The United States also lags behind other rich nations in the way it provides for those at the bottom of the income distribution, and there is no evidence that the opportunities for success promised by the American Dream compensate for inequality in America. Technological and economic developments are significant causes of this growing economic inequality. The role of politics is more controversial, but government policy influences the distribution of income and education by the way it determines government benefits, taxes and the way markets function. For a number of reasons—including, most importantly, the relationship between education and income and the ability of the affluent to make large campaign donations—those who are economically well-off speak more loudly in politics. They are more likely to engage in most forms of individual political participation—not only ones that involve using cash but also ones that cost nothing except time. Moreover, when it comes to political voice through organizations, a professionalized domain dominated by hired experts in which the volume of political voice can be altered to reflect available economic resources, affluent interests are more likely to be organized and active. This essay considers the growing economic inequalities that form an important part of the backdrop for unequal political voice. View Full-Text
Keywords: economic inequality; political equality; democracy; political voice; political participation; household income and wealth; government influence on markets; labor unions economic inequality; political equality; democracy; political voice; political participation; household income and wealth; government influence on markets; labor unions
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Schlozman, K.L.; Brady, H.E.; Verba, S. Growing Economic Inequality and Its (Partially) Political Roots. Religions 2017, 8, 97.

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