How does perceived economic inequality shape individuals’ support of a political regime? Does the effect of economic inequality on regime support vary depending on the regime setting? Using data collected from the fourth wave of Asian Barometer Survey (2014-2016), we find that the perception of economic inequality decreases regime support in East Asian countries. Moreover, this adverse effect is larger is autocracies than in democracies. We further examine and compare three possible mechanisms through which economic inequality decreases regime support: increase of preference for redistribution, change of political values, and decline of social trust. Employing a causal mediation analysis, we find that political value orientation plays a greater mediating role than redistributive preference and social trust do between perceived economic inequality and regime support. Moreover, we demonstrate that the perception of economic inequality is more detrimental to regime support in autocracies than in democracies due to its more erosive impacts on citizens’ affective identification with authoritarian values that underpin regime support in autocracies.
Cai (Vera) ZUO is an associate professor of political science at Fudan University. She gained her doctorate in political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Before working at Fudan, she worked as a visiting assistant professor at the Division of Social Science, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Her research focuses on the political institution of developing countries, with empirical work on cadre management system, congressional representation, and poverty reduction in China. Her articles have appeared in journals including China Quarterly, European Political Science, and China Review. Other publications include an award-winning book Trade-offs and Developments in Research Methods of Political Science (in Chinese, 2017). Her most recent book (coauthored with Qingjie Zeng and Zhongyuan Wang), Farewell to Poverty: The Institutional Foundations of Poverty Reduction in China (in Chinese, 2020) is coming out soon.
Faculty host: Prof Jean HONG(SOSC)