This article uses a subtle experimental treatment to examine how perceptions of income inequality affect generalized trust and the willingness to cooperate with others. It hypothesizes that inequality reduces prosocial attitudes mostly among low-income citizens, who are very sensitive to changes in their relative status. The results of the survey experiment conducted in the Netherlands suggest that perceiving the income distribution as more unequal has particularly detrimental effects on the prosocial attitudes of the poor. A disproportionate erosion of trust among the poor due to increases in income inequality may be an important mechanism hindering mobilization in favor of redistribution.

You do not currently have access to this article.