12 Pages


This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book explores why and how inequality affect democracy, a long-held question in comparative politics, in the context of East Asia. It examines the “inequality trap” thesis that inequality, low trust, and corruption form a vicious circle in the context of Asia by using data drawn from the Gallup World Poll. The book assesses the descriptive validity of individual-level assumptions of political economy theories linking inequality to democracy in the context of East Asia. It examines the effect of inequality on support for the prevailing system of government by using cross-national survey data drawn from 14 East Asian countries. The book examines how economic inequality affects political trust in China, a non-democracy with high economic growth accompanied by growing income inequality.