Beyond equal rights : equality of opportunity in political participation

Hufe, Paul ; Peichl, Andreas

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URN: urn:nbn:de:bsz:180-madoc-415256
Document Type: Working paper
Year of publication: 2016
The title of a journal, publication series: ZEW Discussion Papers
Volume: 16-068
Place of publication: Mannheim
Publication language: English
Institution: Sonstige Einrichtungen > ZEW - Leibniz-Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung
MADOC publication series: Veröffentlichungen des ZEW (Leibniz-Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung) > ZEW Discussion Papers
Subject: 330 Economics
Classification: JEL: D39 , D63 , D72,
Keywords (English): Equality of opportunity , political participation , genes
Abstract: It is well understood that political participation is stratified by socio-economic characteristics. Yet it is an open question how this finding bears on the normative evaluation of the democratic process. In this paper we argue that the equality of opportunity (EOp) concept furnishes an attractive framework to answer this question. Drawing on the analytical tools developed by an expanding empirical literature on EOp we investigate to what extent political participation is determined by factors that lie beyond individual control (circumstances) and thus is unfairly distributed. Using rich panel data from the US, we find that a lack of political opportunity is particularly pronounced for contacts with offcials, participation in rallies and marches, and membership in political organizations. These opportunity shortages tend to complement each other across activities and persist over time. While family characteristics and psychological dispositions during childhood emanate as the strongest determinants, genetic variation is a small yet significant contributor to unequal political opportunities in the US.

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