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Can Welfare States Manage Re-distributive Conflicts? The Determinants of the Gap in the Demand for Re-distribution Between the Rich and the Poor across Advanced Industrial Democracies

Achim Goerres
University of Duisburg-Essen
Achim Goerres
University of Duisburg-Essen

This is a comparative analysis of the determinants of the gap in demand for re-distribution between the rich and the poor across 21 years (1985-2006) and 15 advanced industrial democracies. The paper applies a two-step regression technique to a large set of ISSP survey data and macro-level data from various resources. The findings can be condensed into the following statements: (1) what governments do and are composed of, has little impact on conflict potential; (2) Who the others are in a society, measured by income inequality and ethnic heterogeneity has a strong influence such that more equal societies are associated with lower conflict potential; (3) the basic values toward work as a meritocratic exercise unite the rich and the poor in their demand for re-distribution at different levels; (4) abundance increases conflict potential in that more availability of resources for re-distribution increases the gap in contrast to fears of increasing conflicts over scarce resources. The paper contributes to the modern welfare state literature due to its novel empirical approach and by presenting the first, rigorous empirical assessment of various propositions.
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