Reassessing the Gender Gap in Redistribution Attitudes: the Role of Inequality in the Labor Market and at Home

About this Session


Thu. 11.04.'24 11:50



Abstract :

Researchers attribute the gender gap in support for the welfare state to self-interest, since women face disproportionate labor market insecurity (e.g. Häusermann et al. 2015; Shorrocks and Grasso 2020; Garritzmann and Schwander 2021). Feminist scholarship takes a household approach by arguing that the interests of male and female partners come into conflict over the distribution of domestic work, with bargaining power determined by relative income (Hobson 1990; Orloff 1993). However, we argue that differences in preferences between men and women should depend on the economic position of households. Relatively equal incomes and pressing needs among low-income households suggest convergence on support for an encompassing welfare state. At the middle and top of the household income distribution, however, larger gender pay gaps and unequal bargaining power imply divergent support between men and women.

Using cross-national Luxembourg Income Study data from 1970 to 2018, we find that women’s income relative to male partners falls moving up the household income distribution in all country contexts. We then analyze data from the 2016 European Social Survey and 2016 International Social Survey Programme to demonstrate that variation in within-household inequality is consequential for the gender gap in welfare state support. We find no gap in welfare state support among men and women in low-income households. Instead, gaps emerge in the middle of the household income distribution and grow towards the top. Gender inequality and its political consequences are thus intertwined with broader structures of income inequality.