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The Politics of Income Inequality in the United States

The Politics of Income Inequality in the United States

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Nathan J. Kelly
Cambridge University Press, 3/30/2009
EAN 9780521514583, ISBN10: 0521514584

Hardcover, 216 pages, 22.9 x 15.5 x 2.3 cm
Language: English
Originally published in English

This book revolves around one central question: do political dynamics have a systematic and predictable influence on distributional outcomes in the United States? The answer is a resounding yes. Utilizing data from mass income surveys, elite surveys and aggregate time series, as well as theoretical insights from both American and comparative politics, Kelly shows that income inequality is a fundamental part of the US macro political system. Shifts in public opinion, party control of government and the ideological direction of policy all have important consequences for distributional outcomes. Specifically, shifts to the left produce reductions in inequality through two mechanisms - explicit redistribution and market conditioning. Whereas many previous studies focus only on the distributional impact of redistribution, this book shows that such a narrow strategy is misguided. In fact, market mechanisms matter far more than traditional redistribution in translating macro political shifts into distributional outcomes.

1. Explaining income inequality
2. The distributional force of government
3. Political conflict over 'who gets what?'
4. Party dynamics and income inequality
5. Macro policy and distributional processes
6. Who gets what and how
7. Distribution, redistribution, and the future of American politics.

Reviews of the hardback: '[T]his political scientist goes beyond previous efforts by using statistical analysis to determine how federal spending and taxes affect the distribution of income inequality in the US.' D. B. Robertson, Choice