Economic inequality has been on the rise in almost all liberal societies for the last decades.
What is much less clear, however, is whether this trend is spelling societal problems, and when, to which extent and in what respects rising inequality may affect the nature of our societies.
We specifically investigate to which extent rising inequality may be interfering with societies’ capabilities to allocate positions according to merit and talent, to engage in cooperative social relations, and to decide on political matters through fair and transparent democratic processes.
To address these concerns and to provide new empirical evidence on these issues, the POLAR project is bringing together survey data from various sources, for a wide sample of countries, and eventually extending back in time to the 1970’s or 1980’s.
A rich database will allow us to track relevant changes over time within countries, from which we will describe trends in economic inequality, social mobility, social cohesion, and the functioning of democratic governance, and then aim to disentangle the effects of rising inequality from those of other parallel changes in Western societies.
Besides establishing where and when adverse effects of rising inequality have empirically occurred, we also seek to understand the social transmission processes that create these effects, and then aim to identify societal and institutional sources of resilience.
The POLAR project represents a longer-term research effort on issues of economic inequality. If you wish to contribute to our efforts, whether by having ideas for collaboration on a joint article publication or by being able to contribute suitable survey data to the project database, we would appreciate if you were to get in touch.
European Research Council / ABC Flash Point WW III News 2022.