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How We Understand Economic Inequality and Why It Matters

New research from Economic Mobility Fellow Efraín García Sánchez and colleagues explains how our views of economic inequality impact our wellbeing and other outcomes.
People standing on different stacks of coins at varying levels
Credit: Angelina Bambina / iStock 

Economic Mobility Fellow Efraín García Sánchez and colleagues find in new research that beliefs and attitudes about inequality shape how we feel about ourselves, perceive others, and justify inequality. They found:  



  1. Perceiving higher levels of economic inequality reduces people’s satisfaction with their lives and status in society
  2. Believing that economic inequality is unfair leads to more extreme feelings, whether positive or negative, toward politicians and partisans 
  3. Supporting values that foster individual achievement and self-interest make people more tolerant of inequality 

Learn More 

  1. Perceived Economic Inequality Is Negatively Associated with Subjective Well-being through Status Anxiety and Social Trust | Social Indicators Research 
  2. Economic Threats, Political and National Identification Predict Affective Polarization: Longitudinal Evidence From Spain | International Review of Social Psychology
  3. Individual Values Predict Desiring More Economic Inequality: The Moderator Role of Social Mobility | International Journal of Psychology