Economic Inequality, Poverty, and Tolerance: Evidence from 22 Countries

in Comparative Sociology
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Using multilevel models fitted to data from the World Values Survey and national statistics for 22 countries, this paper explores the relationship between both economic inequality and poverty – both across and within nations – and ethnic and religious tolerance. Consistent with previous research, the results demonstrate a positive relationship between individual-level incomes and tolerance. The results also provide contextual modifications to aspects of Inglehart’s (1987) post-materialist thesis by showing that while tolerance is positively associated with national-level economic prosperity, the relationship is stronger for higher income earners than for those who earn less. Finally, the study also contributes an entirely new finding regarding the influence of poverty on tolerance. Specifically, tolerance tends to be highest in countries with low poverty levels. This finding holds for people throughout the income distribution. The paper concludes with a discussion of the policy implications of these findings.

Economic Inequality, Poverty, and Tolerance: Evidence from 22 Countries

in Comparative Sociology



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  • View in gallery
    Changes in income inequality and relative poverty over time.
  • View in gallery
    Mean tolerance levels for each year plotted against key contextual variables.
  • View in gallery
    Tolerance levels according to relative poverty and per capita GDP by income levels


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