AbstractHow does the perception of economic inequality affect political support in non-democracies? While there is substantial literature on the effect of economic inequality on political attitudes in democracies, less is known about non-democracies. We provide an empirical test of the effect of perceived economic inequality on regime support using the China data from the Asian Barometer Survey between 2002 and 2015. We argue and empirically show that the perception of national economic inequality decreases public support for the political regime in China. Moreover, using a causal mediation analysis, we find that inconsistent with the political economy literature, the detrimental effect of perceived economic inequality on regime support is not driven by preferences for redistribution; instead, it is attributable to the lower authoritarian value orientation under economic inequality. These findings advance our understanding of the economic base of political support and the stability of authoritarian regimes.
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