Charlotte Cavaille

2019-2020 CSDP Fellow
225 Corwin Hall

Charlotte Cavaillé is an Assistant Professor at The Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. In her research, Charlotte seeks to further our understanding of democratic politics’ effect on mitigating or enhancing market-driven economic inequality. More specifically, she focuses on the demand side of redistributive politics in post-industrial democracies, examining the dynamics of popular attitudes toward redistributive social polices at a time of rising inequality, fiscal stress and high immigration levels. In one of her more recent projects, she examines the relationship between immigration, the welfare state and the rise of populism. Through her work on policy preferences, she has become keenly aware of the ubiquity of "cheap talk" in surveys. In a set of working papers titled “Who Cares? Measuring Attitude Strength in a Polarized Environment," she and her co-authors test a new survey tool that not only measures the level of support for a given policy package, but also seeks to capture the proportion of people who care intensely enough to translate their policy position into political action.

During her time at the CSDP, Charlotte plans to finish a book manuscript titled Asking for More: Support for Redistribution in the Age of Inequality. In Asking for More, she explores why, in countries where inequality has increased the most, such as Great Britain and the United States, voters are not asking for more income redistribution. The book starts by documenting the limits of workhorse economic models that focus on material self-interest. Charlotte then develops an alternative framework which advances the study of mass redistributive preferences in two ways. First, it incorporate fairness judgments into the dominant material self-interest tradition. Second, this framework highlight the key role of political elites’ competitive struggle for power. The main insight, succinctly put, is that the public’s response to inequality cannot be understood independently of changes in the supply side of politics: within the boundaries set by norms of fairness, what political elites have to say about inequality and redistribution matters as much as the public’s personal experiences with material hardship and inequality. If time allows, Charlotte will also work on a new project exploring the determinants of voters' perceptions of fairness in the realm of redistributive politics. 

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