Is There Such Thing as Middle Class Values? Class Differences, Values and Political Orientations in Latin America

February 24, 2012

By: López-Calva, Luis Felipe (World Bank)
Rigolini, Jamele (World Bank)
Torche, Florencia (New York University)


Middle class values have long been perceived as drivers of social cohesion and growth. In this paper we investigate the relation between class (measured by the position in the income distribution), values, and political orientations using comparable values surveys for six Latin American countries. We find that both a continuous measure of income and categorical measures of income-based class are robustly associated with values. Both income and class tend to display a similar association to values and political orientations as education, although differences persist in some important dimensions. Overall, we do not find strong evidence of any “middle class particularism”: values appear to gradually shift with income, and middle class values lay between the ones of poorer and richer classes. If any, the only peculiarity of middle class values is moderation. We also find changes in values across countries to be of much larger magnitude than the ones dictated by income, education and individual characteristics, suggesting that individual values vary primarily within bounds dictated by each society.
Keywords: middle class, income, values, political orientations

GINI DP 20: Does Income Inequality Negatively Affect General Trust? Examining three potential problems with the inequality-trust hypothesis

February 16, 2012

By: Sander Steijn (AISSR, University of Amsterdam)
Bram Lancee (AIAS, Universiteit van Amsterdam)


Many studies on the consequences of income inequality find that where inequality is high, trust is low. There are, however, reasons to examine the relation between inequality and trust more closely. First, previous research does not differentiate between the effect of income inequality and that of national wealth. Furthermore, the underlying mechanism is often unclear. Finally, the association might be dependent on non-Western countries where income inequality is extremely high. In this paper, we evaluate whether there is a relation between income inequality and trust in a sample of Western developed economies when taking into account national wealth. Theoretically, we distinguish between stratification effects and perception effects of inequality. Empirically, besides actual income inequality and national wealth, we include a measurement of perceived inequality on the basis of individual level earnings estimations for s! tereotypical jobs. We find no significant effect of inequality on trust when taking into account national wealth, suggesting that in Western countries the amount of resources rather than its distribution explains trust. Key words: trust, income inequality, perceived inequality, national wealth, comparative research.
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New Developments in the Measurement of Welfare and Well-being

February 2, 2012

By: Bernard M.S. van Praag (University of Amsterdam)
Erik J.S. Plug (University of Amsterdam)


This paper is dating from 1995, when it has been presented at the Ragnar Frisch Centennial Memorial Conference in Oslo. It has never been published before. In this paper for the first time the Cantril ladder question data have been employed in the way which later has become known as happiness economics. After two introductory sections 1and 2, Section 3 explains the Leyden School methodology to estimate financial satisfaction or in traditional terms a (cardinal) welfare function of money. In Section 4 the Cantril ladder question is employed to estimate a function of satisfaction with life as a whole. It is found that well-being is quadratic in the number of children, leading to an optimum number of children, given income and given the fact of a one-breadwinner- or two- breadwinners-family. In Section 5 the effects of children on financial satisfaction and on satisfaction with life as a whole are compared. With respect to financial satisfaction it is found that the more children there are the smaller financial satisfaction. Comparison of the two effects makes it possible to distinguish between the monetary cost associated with having children and the non-monetary benefits caused by having children. Part of this paper is based on Plug and Van Praag (1995).
Keywords: happiness economics; Leyden School; Cantril Ladder; family equivalence scales; costs and benefits of children
JEL: B50