Economic Segregation and Public Support for Redistribution


This study assesses whether local economic segregation, or the degree to which people live among others of similar economic status, influences the American public’s preferences for government redistribution. To test this proposition, we combine unique measures of economic segregation at the local level (using zip codes), covering nearly the entire U.S. population, with individual-level opinions on government spending and taxation. Multilevel regression analysis with random intercepts is used to assess whether the public’s preferences for redistribution are shaped by local economic segregation. Our findings suggest that residents living in highly segregated areas are less likely to favor redistributive government policy. Additionally, the results show that the influence of economic segregation on public support for redistribution is particularly strong among the affluent. This research not only contributes to our understanding of the consequences of economic change, but it also demonstrates the importance of considering local context when studying the attitudes of the American public. While the expansion of income inequality is certainly a global phenomenon, the political, economic, and social environments that make up the communities where people live are bound to have an influence on public opinion.

The Social Science Journal