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A glimpse through the veil of ignorance: Equality of opportunity and support for redistribution

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  • Krawczyk, Michal

Abstract

This study is an experimental investigation into preference for redistribution of income. It had been hypothesized that (belief in) equality of opportunity in a society diminishes support for the welfare state. This could potentially explain the low taxes and social benefits in the United States vis-a-vis Europe. To verify this hypothesis, participants in an experiment were assigned different "Probabilities of Winning" and matched in groups of four. Next, before finding out who would actually win, they selected preferred transfers to be paid by the winners to the group as a whole. It was found that the average transfers were about 20% lower in the sessions in which winning was determined by performance in a task rather than by sheer luck. This difference cannot be explained by overconfidence in predicting own score. It corroborates the conjecture that perceived determinants of success (i.e. whether poverty results from laziness or bad luck) affect the support for redistribution. On the other hand, greater inequality of opportunity measured simply by dispersion of Probabilities of Winning within a group did not lead to higher transfers.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

Volume (Year): 94 (2010)
Issue (Month): 1-2 (February)
Pages: 131-141

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Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:94:y:2010:i:1-2:p:131-141

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

Related research

Keywords: Equality of opportunity Social mobility Voting Redistribution American exceptionalism;

References

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  1. Alesina, Alberto F & Di Tella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert, 2001. "Inequality and Happiness: Are Europeans and Americans Different?," CEPR Discussion Papers 2877, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1999. "A Theory Of Fairness, Competition, And Cooperation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 817-868, August.
  3. Bénabou, Roland & Tirole, Jean, 2005. "Belief in a Just World and Redistributive Politics," CEPR Discussion Papers 4952, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Corneo, Giacomo & Grüner, Hans Peter, 2001. "Individual Preferences for Political Redistribution," CEPR Discussion Papers 2694, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Bénabou, Roland & Ok, Efe A, 1998. "Social Mobility and the Demand for Redistribution: the POUM Hypothesis," CEPR Discussion Papers 1955, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Jean-Robert Tyran & Rupert Sausgruber, 2002. "A Little Fairness may Induce a Lot of Redistribution in Democracy," University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2002 2002-30, Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen.
  7. Michal Krawczyk, 2011. "A model of procedural and distributive fairness," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 70(1), pages 111-128, January.
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  13. Woojin Lee & John E. Roemer, 2004. "Racism and Redistribution in the United States: A Solution to the Problem of American Exceptionalism," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1462, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  14. Edi Karni & Tim Salmon & Barry Sopher, 2008. "Individual sense of fairness: an experimental study," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 11(2), pages 174-189, June.
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  17. Fong, Christina, 2001. "Social preferences, self-interest, and the demand for redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 225-246, November.
  18. Klayman, Joshua & Soll, Jack B. & Gonzalez-Vallejo, Claudia & Barlas, Sema, 1999. "Overconfidence: It Depends on How, What, and Whom You Ask, , , , , , , , ," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 79(3), pages 216-247, September.
  19. Sam Allgood & Arthur Snow, 1998. "The Marginal Cost of Raising Tax Revenue and Redistributing Income," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(6), pages 1246-1273, December.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Konrad, Kai A. & Morath, Florian, 2010. "Social mobility and redistributive taxation," Discussion Papers, Research Professorship & Project "The Future of Fiscal Federalism" SP II 2010-15, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  2. Pedro Rey-Biel & Roman Sheremeta & Neslihan Uler, 2011. "(Bad) Luck or (Lack of) Effort?: Comparing Social Sharing Norms between US and Europe," Working Papers 584, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  3. Kemp, Simon & Bolle, Friedel, 2013. "Are egalitarian preferences based on envy?," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 57-63.
  4. Neher, Frank, 2012. "Preferences for Redistribution around the World," Working Papers 26/2012, Universidade Portucalense, Centro de Investigação em Gestão e Economia (CIGE).
  5. Cappelen, Alexander W. & Konow, James & Sørensen, Erik Ø. & Tungodden, Bertil, 2010. "Just Luck: An Experimental Study of Risk Taking and Fairness," Discussion Paper Series in Economics 4/2010, Department of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics.
  6. Harrison, Mark, 2012. "Communism and Economic Modernization," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 92, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
  7. Grimalda, Gianluca & Kar, Anirban & Proto, Eugenio, 2012. "Everyone Wants a Chance : Initial Positions and Fairness in Ultimatum Games," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 989, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  8. Neher, Frank, 2012. "Preferences for redistribution around the world," Discussion Papers 2012/2, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
  9. R. Kline & F. Galeotti & R. Orsini, 2014. "When Foul Play Seems Fair: Dishonesty as a Response to Violations of Just Deserts," Working Papers wp920, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
  10. Francesco Farina & Gianluca Grimalda, 2011. "A cross-country experimental comparison of preferences for redistribution," Department of Economic Policy, Finance and Development (DEPFID) University of Siena 0211, Department of Economic Policy, Finance and Development (DEPFID), University of Siena.
  11. Krawczyk, Michał, 2012. "Incentives and timing in relative performance judgments: A field experiment," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 33(6), pages 1240-1246.
  12. Konrad, Kai A. & Morath, Florian, 2011. "Aspirations of the middle class: Voting on redistribution and status concerns," Discussion Papers, Research Professorship & Project "The Future of Fiscal Federalism" SP II 2011-102, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  13. Yoram Amiel & Michele Bernasconi & Michele Bernasconi & Frank A Cowell & Valentino Dardanoni & Valentino Dardanoni, 2013. "Do We Value Mobility?," STICERD - Public Economics Programme Discussion Papers 17, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  14. Michał Krawczyk, 2013. "Delineating deception in experimental economics: Researchers' and subjects' views," Working Papers 2013-11, Faculty of Economic Sciences, University of Warsaw.
  15. Ruben Durante & Louis Putterman & Joël van der Weele, 2013. "Preferences for Redistribution and Perception of Fairness: An Experimental Study," Working Papers 2013-7, Brown University, Department of Economics.

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