Preferred Levels of Income Inequality in a Period of Systemic Change: Analysis of Data from the Polish Panel Survey, POLPAN 1988–2003
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The Ohio State University
Furman University
Publication date: 2016-06-24
Polish Sociological Review 2016;194(2):171–190
Rising trends in economic inequality are well-established across many affluent nations. However, researchers have accrued considerably less knowledge regarding the economic attitudes and preferences of individuals living within the context of increasing inequality, especially in developing or transition countries. To gain leverage on this topic, we utilize data from Polish Panel Survey (POLPAN) from 1988–2003 to examine change over time in respondents’ preferred levels of income inequality. Results show that Poles tend to accept higher levels of income inequality over time. This effect increases with time, even after controlling for respondents’ meritocratic beliefs and attitudes toward state intervention. In addition, this rise in preferred income inequality changes in accordance with actual and perceived changes in the earnings distribution. After describing the patters of variation in acceptance of income inequality between different social groups, we discuss the implications of individuals’ evolving benchmarks for preferred levels of inequality.
This project was initiated during the Workshop on Panel Design and Analysis organized by Cross-National Studies: International Research and Training Program (CONSIRT) in Warsaw and Columbus (OH) in May 2013, and an earlier version of this paper was presented at the conference “The Polish Panel Survey POLPAN 1988–2013: A Cross-National Perspective,”March 19, 2014, in Warsaw. We would like to thank the Workshop instructors, Kazimierz M. Słomczyński, Irina Tomescu-Dubrow, and Joshua K. Dubrow, for their encouragement and support since the earliest stages of the project, and Zbigniew Karpiński and Barbara Jancewicz for their feedback. We also thank Rachel Dwyer for the invaluable comments and suggestions on earlier versions of this paper, and Tadeusz K. Krauze for his careful reading of the draft and constructive criticisms.
This research was supported by the “Polish Panel Survey POLPAN 1988–2013: Social Structure and Mobility” grant from the National Science Centre Poland (No. 2011/02/A/HS6/00238).