The research questionwhetherincome inequality subverts democracy. The importance of this study follows from the place of democracy in the current society. Notably, democracyis considered an important factor for assuring harmony, peace, and ability to control government power by limiting people in power from abusing it or using it for their stakes. Democracy is achieved by holding elections to allow people choose those who would serve them, and then holding them accountable their actions. In essence, elections do not only create allowance for people to hold the government accountable for its actions, but also lets people participate in the political processes of making decisions. People under the democratic government have the ability to influence the decision of the government by joining political parties, forming lobby groups, and taking part in political movements, among other ways. Consequently, democratic systems are best placed to limit government power, which is associated with order and peace in the governing process. Thus, by understanding the antecedents of democracy, such as whether inequality can subvert democracy, this study will go a long way in guiding ways of achieving desirable democracy.
The question of whether income inequality can subvert democracy strands between two competing views — one that asserts that income inequalities could encourage democracy and the other that asserts income inequalities could subvert democracy. The former considers that since the need to articulate social inequality would be the driving motive for therealization of democracy. In other words, people would so hurt by social inequalities that they would endorse and support democracy, which they would consider as a way of ameliorating the inequalities. The later considers that social inequalities demoralize people about the government, orchestrated by the thinking that democratic government has failed to meet their needs. Consequently, what would have been a democratic process soon subverted, as people look for alternatives to address pertinent inequality issues affecting them.
Perhaps, the study by Jackman (2009) is one of the most relevant studies for this subject. The study pursued to test the hypothesis of whether increasing economic gap between the poor and the rich have an impact on democracy. The study concluded that inequalities could subvert democracy. Jackman (2009) explains that once inequalities become acute, they breed political instability and resentment. These cause further erosion of legitimacy of democratic institutions. Eventually, inequality can polarize politics and create gridlock, causing splits in the political systems that make it difficult for governments to address inequalities and looming crises.
This study is exceptional because, contrary to a study by Jackman(2009) that assessed the impact of increasing economic gap between the poor and the rich on democracy within a single country.It seeks to compare data on relationship between income inequalities and democracy across various countries.By assessingthe relationship between data on income inequalities and democracy across various countries, this study poised to give results tat further complements the results of earlier findings.
In this study, I hypothesize that income inequality subvert democracy. He substantive and null hypothesis are stated as follows.
H0: Income inequality subvert democracy
H1: Income inequality does not subvert democracy
I adopt thequantitative approach, which is a numerical measurement and usually deals with figures using statistical models to explain the data. This method is generally conducted by the use of sampling techniques whose conclusion may be represented numerically and are modifiable through mathematical operations enabling the researcher to predict future events. The mainobjective of quantitative study is to find out the relationship between the independent variables and the outcomes of the research population. In particular, I will use regression analysis, which is a statistical approach that estimates the relationship between tow variables, independent and dependent variables. Regression is well placed to help understand how values of dependent variables change with respect to changes in anindependent variable. In this case, I regress values of democracy of various countries against their corresponding values of income inequalities.
The independent variable is income inequalities while the dependent variable is ademocracy. The income inequality measure is based onGini coefficients. The Gini coefficients are convenient because they are a popular inequality measure and show a range of numbers between 0 and 1, in which 0 corresponds to perfect equality, while 1 corresponds to perfect inequality. The measure of democracy is based on democracy index, which is based on an array of sixty indicators about political culture, pluralism, and civil liberties. This approach is convenient because it includes all elements of democracy.
This study considers six countries for analysis. The sixcountries are considered such that all seven continents are included. The countries chosen include Kenya (Africa) Australia, United States (North America), Brazil (South America), Germany (Europe), and China (Asia).This inclusivityis considered objective in assuring reliability of the study.
Part D: Analysis
The data on income inequality and democracy index are as follows
|Country||Democracy Index (Economic Intelligence Unit 2010)||Income inequality index (World Bank Gini)|
The summary output of the regression is as follows
|Adjusted R Square||-0.19778|
|Coefficients||Standard Error||t Stat||P-value||Lower 95%||Upper 95%||Lower 95.0%||Upper 95.0%|
The population regression model is given by the equation y = β1 + β2 x + u, where the error u is assumed to be distributed independently with constant variance and mean zero. The summary of the above output follows that:
The line of fit is 9.809636 — 0.08004x
The slope of the coefficients hasan error estimated to be 0.137367.
The slope of the coefficient has a t statistic of -0.58268.
The slope coefficient has a p value of 0.601012..The 95% confidence interval for β2 is-0.5172 and 0.357121.
A measure of the fit of the model is R2 = 9.809636
The standard error of the regression is 0.365148.
The hypothesis is tested such that
H0: Income inequality subvert democracy
H1: Income inequality does not subvert democracy
We are supposed to reject H0 at P < 0.05 and accept H0 at P > 0.05. An assessment of the P values reveals leads to the inference that a Income inequality varies with democracy. Furthermore, considering that the best line of fit is 9.809636 — 0.08004x, the negative coefficient of X points to negative gradient, which leads to the inference that income inequality (independent variable) and democracy (dependent variable) are negatively correlated. This further implies that an increase in income inequality results in a decrease in democracy index. Conversely, a decrease in income inequality results in a increase in democracy index. Assuming that there exists a perfect causal relationshipleads to the inference that income inequality subverts democracy.
Part E: Conclusion and analysis
In conclusion, of particular interest for this study was to question whether income inequality subverts democracy.I adopted regression analysis, which is a statistical approach that estimates the relationship between tow variables, independent and dependent variables. Regression is well placed to help understand how values of dependent variables (democracy index) change with respect to changes in independent variable (income inequality index). The results of regression analysis have pointed to the fact that income inequality subverts democracy. This relationship can be accounted such that onceinequalities become acute; they have the ability of triggering political instability and resentment. Consequently, these cause erosion of legitimacy of democratic institutions. The eventuality is that inequality can polarize politics and create gridlock, causing splits in the political systems that make it difficult for governments to address inequalities and looming crises.
The implication of the findings of this study guides that efforts aimed at realizing desirable democracy should consider addressing income inequalities crucial. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that this study only included a limited sample of 6 countries, each from every continent. The potential limitation with limited sample size is limited validity and reliability. There is a need to conduct further studies in the future using a relatively large size to ascertain whether there could be any discrepancies. Furthermore, there is also the need for the study to approach the subject on basis of region-by-region to ascertain the significance of potentially confounding factors, such as culture and geographical differences on the relationship between income inequality and political indices.
Jackman, R.W.(2009) Political democracy and social equality: A Comparative Analysis.American Sociological Review, Vol39(1), pp.29-45