Policy Feedback, Participation, Voting, and Attitudes
Globalization and Welfare series
Edited by Staffan Kumlin and Isabelle Stadelmann-Steffen
Chapter 3: How welfare states shape participatory patterns
In his latest book, On Political Equality, Robert Dahl (2006) argues that despite the advancements and spread of democracy, political equality has yet to be achieved. Political equality, roughly defined as equal opportunities and incentives for all citizens to engage in politics, is not only a desirable normative goal, but one that benefits democratic health. Although political equality is perhaps but an ideal, it is upon this ideal that democracy rests. Expressing itself across multiple dimensions of life, inequality can therefore endanger democracy, with recent studies providing an empirical basis for this claim (Acemoglu and Robinson 2006; Boix 2003; Dalton 2008). Not only is inequality bad for those at the bottom of the income distribution, but for democratic politics as well, as inequality affects ëthe choice of political regime, the selection of fiscal structures, partiesí mobilization strategies, and the decision to turn out to voteí(Beramendi and Anderson 2008, p. 5). In addition to the consequences of economic inequality for political equality, we must also consider what happens to future policy output when the input of participation is already skewed by inequality.
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