13. Market Inequality and the redistributive impact of public policies - still existing or eroding?

Ursula Dallinger, University Trier, Department of Sociology, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The increasing distances between low and high market incomes in recent decades has been mediated by public policies. The variation between countries and over time in terms of the outcomes of the distribution process – poverty rates or income inequality - point to different policy choices and institutions translating primary into a secondary distribution by taxes, social transfers, social services and labor market regulation. Nevertheless, intensified public redistribution could not compensate the loss of labor market opportunities at the bottom.

The stream wants to discuss how and why the mediating function of public policies changed. The welfare states influence on “who gets what and why” has altered and also the political processing of distributive conflicts. Papers are invited that show the patterns of changed ‘welfare effort’ (f.e. dualisation or polarization) and which explain changes both in a cross-national or longitudinal perspective: Important questions might be:

What is the role of political choices in translating market forces into certain inequality structures of disposable incomes?  Are the power resources of societal groups and the parties representing them a driver? Did left power erode or have parties rework their political aims?

In political economy, the median voter and political coalitions with the lower class decide distributive conflicts. Is the middle class voter still a supporter of redistribution to the poor? How do parties reconcile social policy demands of middle class and low wage earners?

Demands of voters might themselves be a reason for changing distributive outcomes. Do rising income disparities exclude the concerns of lower classes from political processes by triggering low political participation?

Are politics responsive to voter preferences at all?

Are changes of labor market regulation, industrial relations and the rise of irregular labor the drivers of rising inequalities? Which labor market policies compensate the development?

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