Attitudes of Union Members Towards Inequality and Electoral Demand for Redistribution

About this Session


Thu. 07.04. 11:45



Speaker: Nadja Mosimann, Co-Author: Line Rennwald

Several factors fuel the rise in inequality over the last four decades, but to the extent that union membership affects electoral demand for redistribution in a positive way, the massive drop in unionization rates across Europe appears to be highly relevant when addressing the puzzle of why it is that we do not observe more cases of democratically elected governments responding to the rise in inequality by introducing new redistributive policies.

The presentation explores how union membership affects electoral demand for redistribution by analyzing the saliency of inequality among union members and its behavioral consequences. We argue that union members think of inequality as more important than non-members and as more important than second-dimension issues such as immigration because trade unions influence their members’ worldviews. Union members are thus less likely to culturally realign their vote choice with their preferences on cultural issues such as immigration even if they oppose the inclusionary immigration policies of left parties.

Using data from the Inequality and Politics survey from 2020 that contains original questions about inequality perceptions and trade union membership, we examine the voting behavior of cross-pressured voters, that is, voters in favor of redistribution and in opposition to immigration, in thirteen European countries and find that saliency of inequality and union membership are key determinants of the vote choice of cross-pressured voters.