Income inequality and political participation in Asia

Yee Hang Mathew WONG

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2 Citations (Scopus)


This paper examines the impact of income inequality on political participation in Asia. Both conventional conflict theory and relative power theory suggest that inequality affects political participation, but they predict opposite directions. In this paper, I argue that the effects of inequality on participation depend on the type of political action: radical or institutional. To substantiate this claim, I analyze four Asian Barometer Survey waves from 2001 to 2014. Using nested models, I find that the effect of income inequality is conditional: it is positively associated with violent activities; has no significant correlation with less radical forms of protest; and is negatively associated with institutional actions, namely voting and persuading others to vote. While the effect does not depend on income level, regime type matters for certain activities. Political capacity, the perception of powerlessness, and trust in government are other potential factors in the relationship. Copyright © 2022 by The Regents of the University of California.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)558-599
JournalAsian Survey
Issue number4
Early online dateMay 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022


Wong, M. Y. H. (2022). Income inequality and political participation in Asia. Asian Survey, 62(4), 558-599. doi: 10.1525/as.2022.1629072


  • Political participation
  • Income inequality
  • Voting
  • Protest
  • Asia


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