Do Citizens Link Attitudes with Preferences? Economic Inequality and Government Spending in the “New Gilded Age”
Objectives This article investigates the extent to which people link policy preferences with unequal outcomes. As the American public is both aware and supportive of reducing income inequality in the abstract, it is an open question whether this concern is translated into support for policies that might help alleviate the rise in economic inequality. Methods Ordinary least squares (OLS) regression is used with data from the General Social Survey (GSS). Results The relationship between attitudes about wealth inequality and spending preferences is positive, but not strong. Moreover, there is no evidence that the least well-off are more attuned to linking attitudes about inequality with spending preferences than the upper or middle classes. Conclusion The main findings suggest that while citizens are able to link attitudes about inequality with spending preferences, the link might not be strong enough to propel elected officials to act as wealth inequality expands.