Inequality, Immigrants, and Selective Solidarity Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Magni, Gabriele
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Political Science
  • How does economic inequality influence policy preferences and political behavior? What is its impact on support for welfare redistribution toward native citizens and immigrants? This work develops and tests a theory in which economic inequality reinforces identity boundaries. The first chapter explores whether economic inequality makes citizens less generous toward immigrants. It explains that inequality triggers selective solidarity. Individuals exposed to inequality grow more supportive of welfare for natives but not for immigrants, which increases the gap in support for natives vs. immigrants. This happens because inequality erodes beliefs in social mobility, which in turn intensifies ingroup favoritism. I first provide evidence with cross-national analysis of OECD survey data linked to national and subnational socio-economic indicators. I then present a survey experiment conducted with a nationally representative sample of Italian citizens, which includes attitudinal measures and a behavioral task. The second chapter asks: Who deserves welfare support? Does working hard matter more or less than being a native citizen? To answer these questions, I run original survey conjoint experiments in France and Italy with nationally representative samples. The divide between native citizens and immigrants emerges as the most important determinant of welfare deservingness. Immigrants are considered less deserving than unemployed who are not looking for a job, who rely on welfare despite being fit and healthy, or who have never had regular jobs. Even Western European hardworking immigrants cannot significantly reduce their disadvantage. Beyond shaping opinions on redistribution, does inequality prompt citizens to take action? The third chapter focuses on the impact of perceived economic unfairness on political participation. Despite their demand for change, individuals dissatisfied with economic inequality turn away from conventional political participation, because deep economic disparity alienates citizens from a political system that seems to lack representational legitimacy. On the other hand, individuals facing economic unfairness are more likely to engage in unconventional participation, but this effect is limited to citizens with high education, which is therefore instrumental to turn demobilization into re-engagement. I offer evidence for this argument using German survey data and structural equation modeling with latent variables.
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  • In Copyright
  • Hooghe, Liesbet
  • Searing, Donald
  • Marks, Gary
  • Maxwell, Rahsaan
  • MacKuen, Michael
  • Bassi, Anna
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2018

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