Voters, take note: a World Bank survey of Indonesian households suggests people have a strong tendency to underestimate the extent of inequality – and it reveals how this can affect their political allegiance, too

Which matters more: actual levels of inequality, or the levels that people perceive to exist? There is now clear evidence that perceptions of inequality have a profound impact on societies all over the world – and that people aren’t very good at judging the reality for themselves.

The trouble is, almost all research on inequality focuses on actual levels, which means our understanding of how people respond to inequality has been based on the assumption that people’s perceptions align with reality. And this, according to a unique survey of Indonesian people by the World Bank, is just not true.

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