The Gender Gap in Redistribution Attitudes, A Multidimensional Analysis

February 17, 2023
12:00 PM
302 Schaeffer Hall (SH)

The Public Policy Center is proud to support the Spring 2023 speaker series hosted by the Department of Political Science. This week's guest speaker is Andreas Jozwiak, visiting assistant professor in political science and policy studies at Grinnell College.

Gender gaps in political behavior have long been a significant object of analysis for social scientists. Women are increasingly likely to support left leaning political parties and to favor redistribution. But recent advances in the literature suggest attitudes toward redistribution are more complex, involving questions about redistribution from (progressive taxation, size and scope of welfare policies) as well as questions about redistribution to (perceptions of recipients' deservingness). In this paper, we examine two questions: whether gender gaps exist in all or particular areas of redistributive attitudes, and what the underlying mechanisms for these differences are. Social role theory posits that socialization into a particular gender carries with it important consequences for political attitudes, while materialist theories point to women's on average lower earnings and greater economic insecurity as reasons for their support of a more generous welfare state. A third recent theoretical strand suggests that within-household dynamics shape welfare preferences, such that women may derive some (in)security from economic position within the household.

Using ESS and Luxembourg Income Survey Data, we find that while women are greater supporters of redistribution from, they hold no more or less supportive attitudes towards the deservingness of welfare recipients, though they themselves are frequently beneficiaries. We thus find little evidence that differences in altruism and empathy shape gender differences in redistributive attitudes. By contrast, women and men’s support for redistribution from differs sharply at the high end of the income distribution—where men become sharply more negative relative to women. We offer initial evidence for this puzzling lack of responsiveness to different economic circumstances by looking within the household. We show women actually may face greater insecurity at higher levels of household income because their relative economic position declines as household income increases.

This talk is free and open to the public; no prior registration is required.

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