Although income inequality in Latin America has decreased in the last decades, the region remains the most unequal in the world. When looking at one of the most harmful types of inequality, social mobility, the picture is even gloomier.
According to the predictions of standard political economy models, people should react to low (expected) social mobility by demanding more redistributive policies. Nevertheless, broken social ladders have not led to more demand for redistribution as these models anticipated.
According to some scholars, a possible explanation is that people misperceive social mobility in their country. Nevertheless, while misperceptions are often found, a growing literature shows that their correction does not necessarily lead to more redistribution.
Only few studies have however tested the role of perceptions of social mobility in developing countries. Additionally, not much has been done to investigate if people react to (perceived) inequalities with other behaviors rather than asking for more redistribution. For instance, Hirschman (1970) contends that individuals have three choices when dissatisfied: voicing their discontent to change the situation, while continuing as a member, exiting the organization, or remaining loyal. Protests (voice) and emigration (exit) are thus alternative actions individuals can take when they are profoundly dissatisfied. Scant evidence for the Hirschman’s framework is however provided for developing countries and, more specifically, for Latin-American countries that have been historically strongly characterized by massive protests and emigration flow.
Our research contributes to the literature by examining the relation between perception of social mobility, preferences for redistribution, protest, and migration intentions in a unified framework. We provide novel observational and experimental evidence in Mexico of the effect of perceived social mobility: the latter might not only affect preferences for redistribution but also intentions (or decision) to change the status quo, by either emigrating or protesting.
Our research contributes to the literature by examining for the first time the relation between perception of inequalities, preferences for redistribution, protest, and migration intentions in a unified framework. In particular, we provide novel observational and experimental evidence in Latin America of the effect of individual perceived social mobility: the latter might not only affect preferences for redistribution but also intentions (or decision) to change the status quo, by either emigrating or protesting.