حزب برای نابرابری : قدرت حزب راست و نابرابری درآمد در دموکراسی های ثروتمند غربی
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|7339||2008||30 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, Volume 26, Issue 1, March 2008, Pages 77–106
Much social science suggests that income inequality is a product of economic and demographic factors and recent work highlights the influence of Leftist politics in affluent Western democracies. But, prior research has neglected rightist politics. We examine the impact of cumulative right party power on three measures of income inequality in an unbalanced panel of 16 affluent Western democracies from 1969 to 2000. We find that cumulative right party power significantly increases inequality with effects comparable to other established causes. Left party power has less influence than the right on the Gini coefficient and the 90/50 ratio but a larger influence on the 90/10 ratio. Union density is insignificant after controlling for right party power. Right party power partly channels through and partly combines with government expenditures to affect inequality. Temporal interactions show that right parties became more influential after 1989 while left parties became less effective. Supplementary analyses suggest that a component of right party power's effects occurs through labor market inequality prior to taxes and transfers. Sensitivity analyses reveal that the results are robust to a wide variety of alternative specifications and operationalizations and do not depend on the inclusion of the U.S. in the sample. Our results inform debates about the sources of inequality and related sociological theories regarding class, politics, the state and the economy.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Right parties are a fundamental cause of income inequality in affluent Western democracies. Cumulative right party power significantly increases the Gini and 90/50 ratio and nearly significantly increases the 90/10 ratio. The effects of right party power are substantial – comparable to or greater than other established sources of inequality. Cumulative left party power has smaller effects for the Gini and 90/50 ratio, but has a larger effect for the 90/10 ratio. Union density is insignificant after controlling for right parties. The effects of right party power are partly channeled through, but mostly combine with government expenditures. After 1989, right parties became more consequential while the effects of left parties weakened. We also show that at least some of the effects of right party power on inequality occur in the labor market before taxes and transfers. The effects of right parties are not simply due to the differences between the U.S. and other countries. Generally, right parties increase inequality overall and by expanding the gap between the middle of the income distribution and the affluent. Left parties reduce inequality mainly by constraining the gap between the affluent and the poor. Ultimately, right parties played a crucial role in the Great U-turn of increasing inequality and were a critical source of the vast cross-national differences in inequality. Our study shows that right parties do not simply undo what the left has done. Rather, right parties have implemented a neoliberal agenda that results in greater inequality independently of what the left might do to reduce it. Since right parties became more effective at raising inequality after 1990 and left parties became less effective at reducing it, it is unlikely that the left can simply return egalitarianism with an electoral victory or two. The ascendance of right parties over the past few decades has deeply transformed the political economies of affluent Western democracies. Beyond highlighting right parties, our study contributes to understanding other sources of inequality. Interestingly, the causes of inequality vary across the inequality measures. As a result, it is valuable to analyze multiple measures. We cannot confirm past findings for net FDI, population growth rate, and wage coordination. Equally important, our final models (second models in Table 3) suggest a reconsideration of which causes are paramount. Because they were unable to control for single parenthood, Alderson and Nielsen (2002) found that female labor force participation had a small positive effect on inequality and Gustafsson and Johansson (1999) found it was positive and insignificant. Our models, including a single motherhood variable, shows that female labor force participation has a large negative effect – indeed, it has the largest effect of any variable for the Gini and 90/10 ratio and the second largest effect for the 90/50 ratio. Percent population elderly, a variable omitted from Alderson and Nielsen (2002) and insignificant in Gustafsson and Johansson (1999), has the largest effect on the 90/50 ratio, the second largest effect for the Gini, and the third largest effect for the 90/10 ratio. Among established causes, manufacturing employment has a moderate effect on all three dependent variables while trade openness, percent population children and children in single mother families only affect the 90/10 ratio. While Alderson and Nielsen (2002) found it was the most important cause of the Gini, agricultural employment only affects the 90/50 ratio and has the smallest significant effect.39 The findings for women in the labor force, population aging and deindustrialization show that society-developmental factors clearly contribute to explaining inequality. At the same time, cumulative right and left party power are essential causes as well. While there has been some controversy over the role of the state, we show that one general measure, government expenditures, significantly reduces the Gini and 90/10 ratio. Plausibly, more sophisticated measures of welfare generosity or tax progressivity would reveal even more powerful effects. Hence, politics should be central to any causal model of income inequality in affluent Western democracies. The power relations among collective political actors and how those power relations shape the state definitely influence the distribution of economic resources (Tilly, 1998). Our theory of how and why right parties increase inequality emphasized legislative action, administrative office-holding, and ideological influence (Aldrich, 1995). All three probably contribute and reflect the causal pathways between right party power and inequality. In terms of legislative action, we show that some of the effect of right parties operates through the size of the state. When government expenditures is added to the second model of Table 3, the coefficient for right party power modestly declines. Thus, some of the effect of right party power is channeled through the causal pathway of reduced government expenditures. In terms of administrative office holding, we show that a portion of right party power's effects occurs in the labor market before taxes and transfers. Also, since the presence of right party power in the models attenuates the effect of union density, right parties may blunt the effectiveness of unions.40 While we cannot directly measure administrative office holding, this substantiates our theoretical model about how the bottom half earn less and the top half gets richer. In terms of ideological influence, we provide evidence that one of the causal pathways involves altering the political terrain of the next election. We show that left party power became less effective in the 1990s, while right party power became more consequential. This substantiates our theoretical model about how the left is forced to shift right and right parties have become increasingly effective in pushing neoliberalism. Despite the evidence to substantiate our theoretical model, we appreciate that more research is needed on the causal processes linking right party power to greater income inequality. It would be valuable to know exactly which aspects of the control of government are paramount for increasing inequality. For example, it could be that right parties affect inequality by controlling finance ministries. Since many right parties were in coalition with other parties, how the cabinet portfolio was divided may be salient. Our theoretical account implicitly suggests that right party power reflects the class interests of the elite and business and the ideology of free markets, neoliberalism, monetarism and post-Keynesianism. Thus, we contribute to the view that politics reflects a confluence of interests and ideas (Aminzade, 1993; Campbell & Pedersen, 2001; Hall, 1992). It would be valuable to compare the role of each in research on how right parties have ushered in social change in recent history. Beyond parties and inequality, our study contributes to longstanding sociological debates on class politics, power resources theory, institutional perspectives of the economy, and statist and market-based social orders. First, our study challenges claims of the decline of class politics. In recent years, lively debates have occurred in response to the claim that class politics have declined in advanced capitalist democracies (Clark & Lipset, 2001; Evans, 1999; Manza & Brooks, 1999). One problematic tendency of the whole debate is how much it has concentrated solely on working class politics, and in the process neglected the politics of the wealthy, upper class, business and managers. In his recent article in American Journal of Sociology for example, Hechter (2004) focuses exclusively on working class voting, labor unions, strikes, and leftist parties.41 This neglects that in the past half century, managers and the self-employed have become dramatically more likely to vote Republican in the U.S., class continues to have tremendous influence on who shows up to vote (Manza & Brooks, 1999), and income has been remarkably stable as a predictor of voting Republican (Brooks & Brady, 1999). Just like the working class, managers, the self-employed, the wealthy, business and elites have social class. But, their politics are often ignored when claims of declining class politics are made. Along with problematically concentrating on the working class, the disproportionate focus on voting results in a neglect of other forms of political participation. Oddly, while class politics are allegedly in decline, capitalists overwhelmingly financially support U.S. Republican candidates (Burris, 2001).42 The political activism of business and elites in funding and leading rightist policy formation networks is certainly class politics as well (Domhoff, 1998). Especially recently but also for several decades, right parties are a formal vehicle for business and elites to exert their influence on policymaking.43 One cannot conclude that class politics have declined solely by observing that the working class is less likely to vote for leftist parties. Consistent with our conclusion that the left has become less effective at reducing inequality and the right has become more effective at increasing it, the left and working class have become less organized and the right, business, and elites have become more organized. Our study illustrates how class politics remain salient, but we are highlighting the class politics of the right, business and elite and less workers and the left.44 By underlining this complex relationship between right parties, elites and business; multiple causal pathways between right parties and inequality; temporal contingency (e.g. the right's greater influence in the 1990s); political opportunity structures (e.g. the weakening of labor unions under right governments); and the role of non-class (society-developmental) factors, we hope to illustrate what Aminzade (1993) calls “non-reductionist class analysis.” Second, our study contributes to thinking about power resources theory. We suggest a few revisions, however. In its classic formulations, power resources theory held that market-driven inequalities and class exploitation were almost the default nature of advanced capitalism (Korpi, 1983a and Stephens, 1979). It was considered a constant that capitalists are more powerful than labor (Korpi, 1983b). A deviation from this natural state of inequality was only possible if the left and working class mobilized to install egalitarianism through a generous welfare state. Power resources theory might contend that inequality has risen in affluent democracies because the left is weaker and capitalism is regressing to its natural state of class exploitation (Korpi, 2003; Korpi & Palme, 2003). In contrast, our study suggests that capitalist power, and the right parties that are its vehicle, are more productively understood as a mobilized resource. Rather than a constant of capitalism, capitalist and right party power is variable (Mizruchi, 1992). Right parties have become more consequential for inequality, and this is not solely because the left has become less effective. While Korpi (1983a: 187) recognized “the two basic types of power resources – control over the means of production and the organization of wage earners into unions and political parties,” we highlight the organization and political mobilization of business and the elite. Finally, some power resources accounts gave the impression that social democracies were on a path to socialism (Stephens, 1979), and that parties would become less relevant after welfare states are institutionalized (Huber & Stephens, 2001). As the widespread resurgence of right parties and inequality in affluent democracies attests, parties continue to matter a great deal and that path is much less clear than it was in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Third, our study supports institutional perspectives on the economy. One of the core precepts of economic sociology is that states and as a result politics guide markets (Campbell & Pedersen, 2001; Fligstein, 2001). This study supports this contention since we ultimately conclude that party and class politics and state capacity fundamentally shape income inequality. We acknowledge that society-developmental factors like demography and labor markets are quite important as well. Yet, our work confirms the sociological predisposition that market phenomena cannot be sensibly understood in isolation from political phenomena. The distinction between markets and politics is in many ways artificial – no component of contemporary economies is free of political influence. Political actors who favor free markets do not simply “let markets do their job.” They actively influence how markets work through their institutional choices of whom to tax and what to regulate. As we show, the distribution of economic resources in society is an embedded product of social relations between collective political actors. Income inequality is the result of social, and not only economic, causes. Finally, we contribute to enduring concerns about the equity and efficacy of statist and market-based social orders. We have argued that right parties implemented neoliberalism, monetarism, privatization and free markets, and in this sense, many affluent Western democracies have become substantially more market-based. This transformation may undermine democracy. If we are correct, and right parties reflect and channel the interests and ideology of the elite and business, the ascendance of right party power may be a manifestation of a greater concentration of political power among elites and business. As Mills (2000) argued in The Power Elite, such concentration poses a serious challenge to democracy (see footnote 43). Unfortunately, however, Mizruchi (2004: 604) writes, “Few sociologists any longer write about the role of economic elites.” We suggest that the political mobilization of elites and business, how it may be manifested in right parties, and its implications for democracy warrant greater contemporary attention. Moreover, one of the emerging concerns with the dramatically rising inequality in countries like the U.S. is that this uneven distribution of economic resources results in an unbalanced distribution of political power. Hence, rising inequality may by itself also have corrosive effects on democracy. For at least the past 25 years, statist perspectives have been on the defensive and the left seems unable to counter the compelling ideological appeals of free market liberalism. As Giddens (1994) argues, the left may be able to reconstitute itself by refocusing on the preservation of democracy and community in an era where those two are threatened by the destructive forces of neoliberalism, free markets and inequality. The salient question is not only between statist and market-based social orders, but who will be able to participate in the decisions that govern markets and states. Tremendous comparative historical variation in income inequality exists in affluent Western democracies. Our study shows that this comparative historical variation is not simply the function or unavoidable by-product of economic and demographic developments. Rather, inequality results from the power relations between political parties, other collective actors and the state. Fischer et al. (1996) have provocatively argued that inequality occurs “by design”—as a result of the politics and collective decisions of societies. The power of right parties is a consequence of their electoral success with voters. As a result, when citizens vote for different political parties, citizens contribute to designing the level of inequality in their society.