Democracy: Equality of Income and Egalitarianism

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One of the main concepts in democratic theory is equality. Countless scholars theorize about the impact of inequality, especially economic and political ones, on democracy. Increasingly, contemporary theorists discuss egalitarian democracy as a necessary development course for the current social structure. Egalitarian doctrines emphasize that people should have equal opportunities to express their rights. Thus, the questions are whether democracy requires equality of income and wealth and how existing democracy might make a country more or less egalitarian.

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Conceptually, democracy does not require equality of income or wealth. People should have equal representative power in government to influence the governing process and the capability to exercise their rights without connection to economic status. Levin-Waldman (2016) argues that “money is supposed to be irrelevant” and “both the rich and the poor are equal before” the law and government (The Threat to Democracy section, para. 1). In reality, rising economic inequality undermines democracy as it increases the gap between rich and poor.

Democratic regimes that foster dependence relationships and are not committed to removing economic inequalities and decentralizing authority make countries less egalitarian. Extreme inequality divides society, virtually shrinking the middle class and leading to public unrest, which may result in wealth-equalizing policies initiatives (Scheve & Stasavage, 2017; Levin-Waldman, 2016). Furthermore, the economic gap has a detrimental effect on citizens’ ability to equally participate in the governing process (Levin-Waldman, 2016). Unfortunately, in existing democracy, wealth is often connected to individuals’ social status as it grants better access to the legislative system and allows for more protection from legal bodies. Democracy is more egalitarian when it enables “equal access to power” and guarantees “equal protection of rights and freedoms” (Sigman & Lindberg, 2019, p. 8-9). Additionally, creating social policies that provide necessary goods and services to all citizens makes countries egalitarian.

In conclusion, while equality of income or wealth is not required, economic inequality contributes to less egalitarian countries. Democratic regimes that create social policies to remove economic inequality and guarantee equal opportunities to influence the governing process and equal protection of political rights are egalitarian. In a democracy, money should not dictate individuals’ standing in society and grant more freedoms, and all social groups should be independent in exercising their democratic rights.


Levin-Waldman, O. M. (2016). How inequality undermines democracy. E-International Relations. Web.

Scheve, K., & Stasavage, D. (2017). Wealth inequality and democracy. Annual Review of Political Science, 20, 451-468. Web.

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Sigman, R., & Lindberg, S. I. (2019). Democracy for all: Conceptualizing and measuring egalitarian democracy. Political Science Research and Methods, 7(3), 595-612. Web.

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DemoEssays. (2022) 'Democracy: Equality of Income and Egalitarianism'. 17 November.


DemoEssays. 2022. "Democracy: Equality of Income and Egalitarianism." November 17, 2022.

1. DemoEssays. "Democracy: Equality of Income and Egalitarianism." November 17, 2022.


DemoEssays. "Democracy: Equality of Income and Egalitarianism." November 17, 2022.