Relative Deprivation, Satisfying Rationality, and Support for Redistribution

Jae Youl Shin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Why do individuals support redistribution? Many studies have investigated the factors that influence support for redistribution; however, none have confirmed the role of income satisfaction. The aim of this study is to explore the role of income satisfaction in its support of the mechanism for redistribution. In this study, I suggest relative deprivation theory and the concept of satisfying rationality , as both give income satisfaction a theoretical position. Based on this framework, I argue that income satisfaction could be an indicator of relative deprivation and is understood as the basis of rational action. Specifically, I suggest the mechanism of relative deprivation that a feeling of unfairness weakens income satisfaction, and deterioration in income satisfaction leads individuals to support redistribution. To support this argument, I conduct multilevel path analysis using World Value Survey 6 waves focusing on the OECD countries. I first examine the direct effect of income satisfaction on support for redistribution and find a statistical association between income satisfaction and support for redistribution. Then, I check the relationship between income satisfaction and feeling of unfairness to validate income satisfaction as an indicator of relative deprivation. These findings imply that scholars need to pay more attention to the substantial role of individuals’ subjective reaction to the objective economic conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-56
Number of pages22
JournalSocial Indicators Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Nov 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Income satisfaction
  • Redistribution
  • Relative deprivation
  • Satisfying rationality
  • Support for redistribution
  • Unfairness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences(all)


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