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2 CES Open Forum Series

Education and Participatory Inequalities in Real Existing Democracies: Probing the Effect of Labor Markets on the Qualities of Democracies

2011 – Carsten Schneider and Kristin Makszin


Does the type of capitalist system affect the qualities of democratic systems? We approach this big question by narrowing down the definition of the qualities of democracies (QoD) to political equality and by operationalizing the latter in terms of equal participation of politically relevant groups in elections. The concept of market economies we narrow down to labor markets and we rank countries on a scale that reflects the degree of regulation and protection of their labor markets. Using rare event logistic regression on micro-level data for 16 countries from multiple waves of the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP), we show that more strongly regulated and protected labor markets do reduce the distorting effect of education on political participation: lower educated citizens in regulated market economies turn out more than the same type of citizen in less regulated market economies; and, at the same time, the over-representation among the politically active citizens of highly educated citizens is less pronounced in regulated than in not regulated labor markets. We interpret these findings such that the type of market economy does matter for QoD and that, more specifically, more regulated labor markets help mitigate the effect of one important source of political inequality.