Canonical political economy models have emphasized the centrality of income in shaping preferences for redistribution. Yet, in many parts of the world, empirical studies have shown a weak or no relationship between income and redistributive outcomes. In this book, I argue that an identity cleavage called ``social-status” mediates the relationship between income and redistributive preferences. In societies with hereditary ranked distinctions between groups — with some individuals ranked as “high-status” and others as “low-status” at birth — the rise of lower-status group in politics not only portends a redistribution of income, but also a desegregation of public goods and spaces. Facing the specter of desegregation, wealthy upper-status elites are able to persuade poor high-status members into antiredistributive coalitions. In this chapter I define social-status, describe its salient features, and explain why identities such as class and ethnicity are insufficient for explaining politics in some contexts. I use examples from contemporary and Colonial India, as well as post Civil-War United States to demonstrate when we observe social-status in politics, and how it comes to shape redistributive outcomes such as tax capacity, public good preferences, and vote choice.
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