Inequality in Europe: Reality, Perceptions, and Hopes

32 Pages Posted: 3 Feb 2022 Last revised: 14 Feb 2022

See all articles by Alessandra Faggian

Alessandra Faggian

Gran Sasso Science Institute

Alessandra Michelangeli

Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca - Department of Economics, Management and Statistics (DEMS); Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca - Center for European Studies (CefES); Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca - Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Economics, Psychology & Social Sciences (CISEPS)

Katerina Tkach

Department of Statistics and Quantitative Methods University of Milano-Bicocca

Date Written: February 3, 2022

Abstract

Is actual inequality accurately translated into people’s perceptions, and what are the genuine hopes of citizens? Our contribution offers insights into how the reality and two subjective dimensions of inequality, namely perceptions, and desires, interact. Using data from the Eurobarometer, we study the main patterns of different “types” of inequality in the European NUTS2 regions. Considering the role of attitudes and beliefs, the residents of the same region are typically found to hold a similar perception of how unequal their society is. Moreover, and somewhat surprisingly, the reality is contrary to people’s perception since low (high) actual inequality in the region is often reflected in its overestimated (underestimated) perception. We also show that perceived, and desired inequality are distinct metrics as commonly applied determinants of perceptions are rather weakly associated with desired inequality, probably due to the normative nature of the latter. The evidence presented here implies that objective measures of inequality should be used in conjunction with subjective ones to gain a complete picture of the phenomenon. Our findings may assist policy-makers and other interested stakeholders in designing dedicated policies to counteract inequality in all its forms.

Keywords: income inequality, inequality perceptions, desired inequality, Europe

JEL Classification: D31, D63, D83, I31

Suggested Citation

Faggian, Alessandra and Michelangeli, Alessandra and Tkach, Katerina, Inequality in Europe: Reality, Perceptions, and Hopes (February 3, 2022). University of Milan Bicocca Department of Economics, Management and Statistics Working Paper No. 489, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4024985

Alessandra Faggian

Gran Sasso Science Institute ( email )

Italy

Alessandra Michelangeli (Contact Author)

Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca - Department of Economics, Management and Statistics (DEMS) ( email )

Piazza dell'Ateneo Nuovo, 1
Milan, 20126
Italy

Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca - Center for European Studies (CefES)

U6 Building
Viale Piero e Alberto Pirelli, 22
Milano, 20126
Italy

Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca - Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Economics, Psychology & Social Sciences (CISEPS) ( email )

Piazza dell'Ateneo Nuovo, 1
Milano, 20126
Italy

Katerina Tkach

Department of Statistics and Quantitative Methods University of Milano-Bicocca ( email )

Piazza dell’Ateneo Nuovo 1, 20126 Milano
Milano, 20126
Italy

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