Disadvantage and Democracy: Why Income and Education Matter for Attitudes Towards Democracy

Andrew Klassen, Jeremiah Thomas Brown

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference paper presented at Conference (not in Proceedings)

    87 Downloads (Pure)


    Introduction: The paper outlines the connection between being disadvantaged and perceptions of democracy, through the paradigm of the capability approach. The paper briefly summarises the notion of adaptive preferences and how this can be used to explain why disadvantaged citizens are likely to hold different levels of satisfaction with democracy.

    Methods: The study analyses about 3.2 million respondents from 162 cross-national surveys covering 143 countries between 1973 and 2016.  This public opinion data is analysed against relative levels of economic deprivation and contrasted with five indices of democratic quality.

    Results: Respondents are more satisfied with democracy as income is more equitably distributed between population quintiles. Democratic satisfaction is more sensitive to changes in income distribution for some demographic groups.Higher socioeconomic groups exhibit stronger correlations with expert indices of democratic quality.

    Discussion: We find that there is evidence for the utility of the notion of adaptive preferences for understanding satisfaction with democracy. This suggests that more attention should be paid to how inequality is distributed across society, rather than just presenting analysis on how much inequality there is in various democratic societies.

    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 2018
    EventIPSA 25th World Congress of Political Science - Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
    Duration: 21 Jul 201825 Jul 2018


    ConferenceIPSA 25th World Congress of Political Science
    CityBrisbane, Queensland
    Internet address


    Dive into the research topics of 'Disadvantage and Democracy: Why Income and Education Matter for Attitudes Towards Democracy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this