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The moral consequences of economic growth: An empirical investigation

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  • Davis, Lewis S.
  • Knauss, Matthew
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    Abstract

    In The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth, Benjamin Friedman argues that growth reduces the strength of interpersonal income comparisons, and thereby tends to increases the desire for pro-social legislation, a position he supports by drawing on the historical records of the US and several Western European countries. We test this hypothesis using a variable from the World Values Survey that measures an individual's taste for government responsibility, which we interpret as a measure of the demand for egalitarian social policy. Our results provide support for a modified version of Friedman's hypothesis. In particular, we find that the taste for government responsibility is positively related to the recent change in the growth rate and negatively related to the change in income inequality. We conclude by discussing the implications of these findings for attempts to further the egalitarian social goals.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics).

    Volume (Year): 42 (2013)
    Issue (Month): C ()
    Pages: 43-50

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:soceco:v:42:y:2013:i:c:p:43-50

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/620175

    Related research

    Keywords: Growth; Morality; Welfare state; Redistribution; Preferences; Values;

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