Quality & Quantity

, Volume 53, Issue 4, pp 1675–1692 | Cite as

Gauging fiscal worlds: how the EU countries balanced equality and wealth between 2007 and 2016

  • Alessia Damonte
  • Fedra NegriEmail author


Can income equality and national wealth go hand in hand? This issue has long marked the distance between the neoliberal and the social democratic policy paradigms. By combining so far unrelated streams of literature, we sketch a theoretical framework in which fiscal policies shape four “fiscal worlds”, each of them characterized by a special balance between income equality and national wealth. Then, we resort to Boolean algebra and fuzzy sets to develop a measure that encompasses both these policy outcomes at once without assuming any a priori functional relationship. Last, we assess the heuristic capacity of our measure by mapping the EU countries’ membership to the four fiscal worlds from 2007 until 2016 and the trajectories they followed.


Set-theoretic indicators Fiscal policy outcomes Income inequality National wealth Economic crisis European Union 



This article contributes to the project “PolCrisis@Europe”, headed by Marco Giuliani and funded by the Italian Ministry of University and Research under the PRIN scheme (Prot. 2015P7RCL5). The authors gratefully acknowledge the encouraging comments that earlier versions of this work received from the participants to the Spring Meeting “Fiscal Union, Social Europe: Synergies and Tensions” (Institute for the New Economic Thinking, Bruxelles, April 2017), to the panel “Are Member States’ Tax Systems in a European Policy Trap?” (Italian Political Science Association—SISP Conference, Urbino, September 2017) and to the Labour and Welfare Lunch Seminar (University of Milano, December 2017). Special thanks go to Fabio Franchino, Enrico Rettore and Antonio Scialà for their useful suggestions.


The study is part of the PRIN project ‘POLCrises@Europe’ (Prot. 2015P7RCL5), We kindly acknowledge the Italian Ministry of Education for financial support.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 193 kb)


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social and Political SciencesUniversità degli Studi di MilanoMilanItaly

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