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Media opportunity: Majority of people in seven countries believe income differences are too large, that CEOs make outsized salaries compared to unskilled workers: research study

Posted by Communications and Marketing on November 30, 2023 in News

Social inequality has long been a compelling and sometimes contentious topic in public debate, but how much do people know about income disparities, how do they feel about them and what do they think different professions should earn?

Researchers at Dalhousie University and the Leibniz-Institute for the Social Sciences examined the issue and found 80 per cent of people in seven countries believe the income gap is too large and have broadly similar egalitarian attitudes to pay differentials.

In a new paper, they describe how differences in attitudes to inequality are concentrated in an inegalitarian few, who differ substantially both from the egalitarian majority in the same country and often from the inegalitarian minorities in other countries.

Lars Osberg, a professor in Dal's Department of Economics, led the study that uses five waves of International Social Survey Programme data from 1987 to 2019 to compare attitudes toward "fair" pay ratios in Germany, Italy, Hungary, Norway, Great Britain, the U.S. and Russia.

Respondents were first asked to estimate the actual salaries of different jobs and then what people in these positions should earn. The jobs included shop assistant, doctor in general practice, chair of a large national company, unskilled factory worker and federal cabinet minister. In all countries, in all survey waves, an overwhelming majority thought that a CEO should earn more than a factory worker, but not much more.

Dr. Osberg is available to discuss the findings and how the overwhelming majority believe, for example, that the ratio between what top executives should earn and what factory workers should earn is quite small compared to the current actual pay ratio.



Media contact:

Alison Auld  
Senior Research Reporter  
Communications, Marketing and Creative Services  
Dalhousie University  
Cell: 1-902-220-0491  


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