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GINI DP 33: Income Inequality and Solidarity in Europe

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  • Marii Paskov

    ()
    (AIAS, University of Amsterdam (UvA))

  • Caroline Dewilde

    ()
    (TS Social and Behavioral Sciences, Tilburg University)

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    Abstract

    This paper studies the relationship between income inequality, a macro-level characteristic, and solidarity of Europeans. To this aim, solidarity is defined as the ‘willingness to contribute to the welfare of other people’. We rely on a theoretical idea according to which feelings of solidarity are derived from both affective and calculating considerations, and we test competing hypotheses relating the extent of income inequality to both motivations for solidarity. Using data from the 1999 European Values Study (EVS), we apply multilevel analysis for 26 European countries. Controlling for household income and for other relevant macro-level characteristics which possibly influence feelings of solidarity of Europeans in different countries, we find evidence that in more unequal countries people are less willing to take action to improve the living conditions of their fellow-countrymen. This is true for respondents living in both low- and high-income households. Following from our expectations derived from the literature, this finding furthermore suggests that, at least when measured in terms of ‘willingness to contribute to the welfare of other people’, feelings of solidarity seem to be influenced more strongly by affective, rather than by calculating considerations.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by AIAS, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies in its series GINI Discussion Papers with number 33.

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    Date of creation: Mar 2012
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    Handle: RePEc:aia:ginidp:33

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    Keywords: solidarity; income inequality; social distance; human motives; Europe.;

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    1. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2006. "Belief in a Just World and Redistributive Politics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(2), pages 699-746, May.
    2. Hoffman, Elizabeth & McCabe, Kevin & Smith, Vernon L, 1996. "Social Distance and Other-Regarding Behavior in Dictator Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 653-60, June.
    3. Meltzer, Allan H & Richard, Scott F, 1981. "A Rational Theory of the Size of Government," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 914-27, October.
    4. Schokkaert, Erik, 2006. "The Empirical Analysis of Transfer Motives," Handbook on the Economics of Giving, Reciprocity and Altruism, Elsevier.
    5. Alberto Alesina & Edward Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote, 2001. "Why Doesn't The US Have a European-Style Welfare State?," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1933, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    6. Samuel Bowles & Herbert Gintis, 2000. "Reciprocity, Self-Interest and the Welfare State," Nordic Journal of Political Economy, Nordic Journal of Political Economy, vol. 26, pages 33-53.
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