Martin gilens affluence and influence pdf

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martin gilens affluence and influence pdf

EconPapers: Affluence and Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in America

Nathan Kelly, Martin Gilens. In Affluence and Influence , Martin Gilens explores the question of who gets represented in American democracy. The central thesis of the book is that American democracy is not equally responsive to the rich and the poor. Policy outcomes favored by the rich are substantially more likely than policy outcomes supported by those in the middle and bottom of the income distribution. This is an important book, representing an excellent piece of scholarship that will shape the debate about public opinion and American democracy for years to come. I conclude by discussing a few shortcomings in the analysis and identifying some questions for future work that
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State of Democracy: Martin Gilens

Descriptive Representation, Money, and Political Inequality in the United States

By Martin Gilens. Do affluent Americans have more influence over government policy than the poor and middle class have? A culmination of years of research, the book explores the degree to which the economic affluence of citizens influences public policy. While he observes a strong policy response when the preferences of rich and poor Americans are similar, the preference—policy link for the less affluent disappears when their preferences diverge from those of the rich. When preferences differ, only the most affluent—those above the 90th percentile of household income—influence policy outcomes at all. This tilt toward the wishes of the wealthy is observed in economic policy, foreign policy, and policy involving moral or religious values. On social welfare issues, the policy response to the middle class and poor is somewhat more equitable, but even then, Gilens finds that it is due to the coincidental alignment of their preferences with the wants of powerful interest groups on matters such as healthcare, education, and social security.

In an ideal democracy, all citizens should have equal influence on government policy--but as this book demonstrates, America's policymakers respond almost exclusively to the preferences of the economically advantaged. Affluence and Influence definitively explores how political inequality in the United States has evolved over the last several decades and how this growing disparity has been shaped by interest groups, parties, and elections. With sharp analysis and an impressive range of data, Martin Gilens looks at thousands of proposed policy changes, and the degree of support for each among poor, middle-class, and affluent Americans. His findings are staggering: when preferences of low- or middle-income Americans diverge from those of the affluent, there is virtually no relationship between policy outcomes and the desires of less advantaged groups. In contrast, affluent Americans' preferences exhibit a substantial relationship with policy outcomes whether their preferences are shared by lower-income groups or not. Gilens shows that representational inequality is spread widely across different policy domains and time periods. Yet Gilens also shows that under specific circumstances the preferences of the middle class and, to a lesser extent, the poor, do seem to matter.

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2 COMMENTS

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  2. Almandos A. says:

    Affluence & Influence. Economic Inequality and Political Power in America. Martin Gilens. Department of Politics. Princeton University.

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