SNF-funded Research Project led by Prof. Nathalie Giger (2018-2022)



Economic inequality is on the rise and has gained momentum in the political debate. However, despite heavy political rhetoric, i.e. Obama calling inequality “the defining challenge of our time”, little political action has been taken to counter the trend and the general public displays little appetite for more redistribution. This is insofar puzzling as the political economy models would predict otherwise.

In this project, we focus on the perception of inequality and analyse the effects of these perceptions on political preferences and behaviour. Understanding this link is of utmost importance because the political impact of inequality is mediated by how people perceive and appraise this phenomenon. Importantly, to get at the core of the puzzle, it is crucial to focus on two potential sources of the mismatch: Citizens and political elites. For citizens, the perception of economic inequality influences not only their demand for redistribution but impacts also their political behaviour, i.e. their vote choice later on. For political elites, the perception of inequality is crucial in determining the political action they might take against it.

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