Although it is well known that Italy is characterized by a rather high level of inequality in income distribution, as testified by many empirical studies using objective data, there is a lack of studies about subjective aspects of inequalities, i.e. how people perceive and judge them. This article investigates Italian workers’ attitudes to income inequalities using recent data from a nationally representative sample (N = 2.500). I report findings about three kinds of attitudes – perceived actual inequalities, legitimate inequalities, and tolerance of inequalities – measured by respondents’ estimation of income ratios between high and low status occupations (like in past ISSP surveys). At the aggregate level, the main result is that high income inequalities, even though generally underestimated by interviewees, are quite uniformly considered unjust at the level where respondents actually perceive them. At the micro level, as suggested by sociological and economic theories, this analysis investigated the role of self-interest and political orientation as drivers of attitudes towards inequalities and the system generating them. Regression results show that both class and income, as indicators of self-interest, matter for the level of legitimate («just») inequalities. As expected, people in the service class and more affluent individuals accept wider income ratios between occupations than working class people and less affluent individuals. However income, unlike class, influences the perception of the actual level of inequalities. Thus class, rather than income, turns to be associated with tolerance of inequalities. Quite unexpectedly, political orientation, as measured by self-placement along the left-right axis, is not correlated with legitimate inequalities. All the apparent association between political orientation and (in-)tolerance of inequalities is almost entirely due to the heightened awareness of actual income inequalities displayed by left-wing people, not by their opinion about just income ratios. Variations of these relationships at sub-national level were also found and reported.

Gli atteggiamenti verso le disuguaglianze di reddito in Italia: il ruolo di interesse personale e orientamento politico

CARRIERO, Renzo
2013

Abstract

Although it is well known that Italy is characterized by a rather high level of inequality in income distribution, as testified by many empirical studies using objective data, there is a lack of studies about subjective aspects of inequalities, i.e. how people perceive and judge them. This article investigates Italian workers’ attitudes to income inequalities using recent data from a nationally representative sample (N = 2.500). I report findings about three kinds of attitudes – perceived actual inequalities, legitimate inequalities, and tolerance of inequalities – measured by respondents’ estimation of income ratios between high and low status occupations (like in past ISSP surveys). At the aggregate level, the main result is that high income inequalities, even though generally underestimated by interviewees, are quite uniformly considered unjust at the level where respondents actually perceive them. At the micro level, as suggested by sociological and economic theories, this analysis investigated the role of self-interest and political orientation as drivers of attitudes towards inequalities and the system generating them. Regression results show that both class and income, as indicators of self-interest, matter for the level of legitimate («just») inequalities. As expected, people in the service class and more affluent individuals accept wider income ratios between occupations than working class people and less affluent individuals. However income, unlike class, influences the perception of the actual level of inequalities. Thus class, rather than income, turns to be associated with tolerance of inequalities. Quite unexpectedly, political orientation, as measured by self-placement along the left-right axis, is not correlated with legitimate inequalities. All the apparent association between political orientation and (in-)tolerance of inequalities is almost entirely due to the heightened awareness of actual income inequalities displayed by left-wing people, not by their opinion about just income ratios. Variations of these relationships at sub-national level were also found and reported.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2318/132250
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