Wealthy Elites’ Policy Preferences and Economic Inequality: The Case of Technology Entrepreneurs
98 Pages Posted: 7 Sep 2017
Date Written: September 5, 2017
If wealthy business people reliably support policies in their material self-interest, they can be expected to use their tremendous political influence to exacerbate inequality. We argue business elites in an industry can share distinctive values and predispositions which can override their self-interest. We demonstrate our argument with technology entrepreneurs, business elites with increasing wealth and political influence but who overwhelmingly support Democrats. To understand this puzzle, we conducted original surveys of elite technology entrepreneurs, elite partisan donors, and the public. We show that technology entrepreneurs’ predispositions toward racial tolerance, non-authoritarianism, and cosmopolitanism align them with Democrats in supporting liberal redistributive, social, and globalistic policies. However, they generally oppose regulation—but also for reasons that extend beyond self-interest alone. Our findings provide a rare window into a wealthy elite’s views that is both theoretically rich and politically relevant, providing nuance to expectations about the interplay between economic and political inequality.
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