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In the eye of the beholder: Subjective inequality measures and individuals' assessment of market justice

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Kuhn Andreas ,
Project MOSAiCH 2011
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal European Journal of Political Economy
Volume (Issue) 27(4)
Page(s) 625 - 641
Title of proceedings European Journal of Political Economy
DOI 10.1016/j.ejpoleco.2011.06.002


This study presents a simple empirical framework suitable for describing individuals' subjective evaluations of wage inequality and their normative assessment of market justice. The framework is illustrated using survey data from the International Social Survey Program from Switzerland. Although most individuals accept the fact that there are quite large pay differentials across different occupations, they would still prefer a more equal distribution of market wages. The empirical analysis further shows that financial self-interest, normative beliefs, and perceptions of how wages are determined all have an impact on the assessment of market justice. Finally, subjective inequality measures and the assessment of market justice turn out to be substantive predictors of individuals' general support for the welfare state and their party identification.