Research Methods & Research Design
Scholars studying democracy are just beginning to investigate the specifically political consequences of rising socio-economic inequalities. This paper analyses whether the degree of political inequality between social groups is shaped by features of the welfare capitalist system. Specifically, we hypothesize that more labour protection and social support decrease participatory inequality via more evenly distributed resources and engagement between high- and low educated citizens. Our regression analyses combining micro- and macro-level data from 37 capitalist democracies over the past 20 years provide evidence that some protective and supportive elements of welfare capitalism reduce education-based participatory inequality. Our fuzzy-set Qualitative Comparative Analysis identifies three functionally equivalent types of welfare capitalism that all produce low participatory inequality via increased protection, support or both. Finally, we empirically demonstrate that the mechanisms behind this link are, indeed, a more equal distribution of resources and engagement across low- and high educated citizens.