Comparing support for income redistribution between Eastern and Western European Union states

Katelyn Finley


Scholars have argued that Eastern Europe’s communist past drives significant differences in Eastern and Western Europeans’ social justice norms. However, much of this research examined attitudes before the East’s accession to the European Union (EU). Using data from the International Social Survey Project’s 1999 and 2009 Social Inequality surveys, I compare Eastern and Western Europeans’ attitudes toward income redistribution to examine whether EU integration has coincided with a convergence in Eastern and Western social justice norms. I find that although average levels of support for redistribution have remained stable overtime in the East, there have been important changes in ways that Eastern Europeans form opinions about redistribution. First, class status has become more important in shaping Eastern attitudes since the East’s EU accession. By 2009, its effect in the East was not significantly different from its effect in the West. Second, while citizens’ experience under communism significantly affected Eastern attitudes before EU accession, its effect has become insignificant overtime. These findings suggest that the East’s communist past is no longer an important driver of variations in social justice norms across the EU.

Słowa kluczowe

European Union integration; public opinion; income redistribution; social justice norms.

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