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GINI DP 7: Income Distributions, Inequality Perceptions and Redistributive Claims in European Societies

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  • István György Tóth

    ()
    (TÁRKI Social Research Institute)

  • Keller, T.

Abstract

In this paper we analyse how redistributive preference relates to actual income and to its distribution. For measuring the relationship on macro level, we defi ne distance based measures of income inequality (P-ratios, based on data from LIS) and test them for their direct and for their contextual effects on aggregate (country level) and on individual redistributive claims. For measuring redistributive preference we develop a composite index using available public opinion (Eurobarometer) data for the European Union member states. On macro level there is a continued and high support of state redistribution in many European countries but the cross-country variance is also high. Preferences for redistribution correspond to various aspects of inequality (most notably, to the extent and depth of relative poverty). On micro level the redistributive preference, while mostly derived from rational self interest (material position, labour market status, expected mobility), is also driven by general attitudes about the role of personal responsibility in one’s own fate and by general beliefs about causes of poverty and the like. While the affl uent, the middle and the poor have different appetite for redistribution everywhere, the distance between their attitudes also seems to be determined by the distance between their relative positions (ranks in the distribution). In countries having larger level of aggregate inequalities the general redistributive preference (of the rich, of the middle and of the poor) is higher, however in countries with very high levels of inequalities the difference in redistribution preference begins to decrease, which is a hint for a curvilinear relationship. The slope of this socioeconomic gradient seems, however, steeper in countries with middle inequality levels. The results of the paper can contribute to a refi nement of the predictions developed in the frame of the median voter theorem and, via this, to a better understanding of political processes. JEL Classification: D31, D63, H3

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by AIAS, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies in its series GINI Discussion Papers with number 7.

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Date of creation: Feb 2011
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Handle: RePEc:aia:ginidp:7

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  1. Valentino Larcinese, 2007. "Voting over Redistribution and the Size of the Welfare State: The Role of Turnout," Political Studies, Political Studies Association, vol. 55, pages 568-585, October.
  2. Milanovic, Branko, 2010. "Four critiques of the redistribution hypothesis: An assessment," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 147-154, March.
  3. 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.
  4. Alberto Alesina & Eliana La Ferrara, 2001. "Preferences for Redistribution in the Land of Opportunities," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1936, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  5. Alberto Alesina & Edward Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote, 2001. "Why Doesn't the United States Have a European-Style Welfare State?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 32(2), pages 187-278.
  6. Claudia Senik, 2005. "Income distribution and well-being: what can we learn from subjective data?," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(1), pages 43-63, 02.
  7. Corneo, Giacomo & Gruner, Hans Peter, 2002. "Individual preferences for political redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(1), pages 83-107, January.
  8. Rainald Borck, 2007. "Voting, Inequality And Redistribution," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 21(1), pages 90-109, 02.
  9. La Ferrara, Eliana & Alesina, Alberto, 2005. "Preferences for Redistribution in the Land of Opportunities," Scholarly Articles 4552533, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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Cited by:
  1. Javier Olivera, 2012. "Preferences for Redistribution in Europe," Working Papers 201225, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.

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