The acceptance of income differences varies across countries. This article suggests three general mechanisms to account for this: the “tunnel effect”, related to perceptions of generational mobility; the “procedural justice effect”, related to the perceived fairness in the process of getting ahead; and the “middle-class effect”, related to perceptions of the current social structure. The suggested mechanisms are tested by means of the ISSP 2009 module, which includes 38 countries. The three mechanisms account for a considerable part of the cross-national differences. The relatively high tolerance for current income differences in countries such as Denmark, Norway and China, and low tolerance in countries such as Ukraine, Hungary and Bulgaria, are well explained by the theoretical framework. By means of model residuals it is also shown which countries should be considered exceptional. Finally, as in previous research, no link was found between actual income inequality and acceptance of current income differences.
PSN: Income Inequality (Topic)