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Political Inequality in 38 Countries: A Distributional Approach

In: Comparative Sociology
Authors:
Nicolás M. Somma Instituto de Sociología, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Chile

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Matías A. Bargsted Instituto de Sociología, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Chile

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Abstract

This article presents a “distributional” approach for the study of political inequality of voice (hereinafter PIV) which complements the prevailing “categorical” approach. It measures distributional PIV using a country-level political Gini index based on the 2004 ISSP survey applied to 38 countries. This measure indicates how evenly political voice – as measured by individual engagement in several political participation activities – is distributed among the adult population. The authors highlight three results: 1) there is considerable cross-national variation in the political Gini, which ranges from 0.33 (Canada and New Zealand) to 0.81 (Hungary); 2) the political Gini is modestly correlated with categorical measures of PIV; 3) political inequality is statistically and substantively higher in countries with younger and less consolidated democratic institutions, in those with predominantly clientelistic rather than programmatic political competition, and in less socioeconomically developed countries, though this last association is less robust than the formers.

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