Leonardo Bursztyn, Georgy Egorov, Ingar Haaland, Aakaash Rao, Chris Roth, 03 March 2022

Dissent plays a vital role in driving social change, but can be limited when individuals fear social sanction for expressing opinions about controversial issues. This column explores the function of rationales in facilitating dissent on both sides of the US political spectrum. Using a simple theoretical framework, it shows that liberals are more willing to post a tweet opposing movements to defund the police – and indeed face fewer social sanctions – when their tweet implies they have read scientific evidence supporting their position. Analogous experiments with conservatives demonstrate that the same mechanisms facilitate anti-immigrant expression.

Li Yang, Filip Novokmet, Branko Milanovic, 09 October 2019

The historically unprecedented economic and social transformation in China over the past four decades has seen urban areas becoming much richer, but also much more unequal. This column analyses changes in the Chinese urban elite. It finds that, compared to the 1980s, the elite today consists mainly of professionals, self-employed, and smaller and larger business people, they are much better educated, and they receive a much greater share of total urban income. This is reflected also in the composition of the Communist Party of China.

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