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Are People Inequality Averse, and Do They Prefer Redistribution by the State? A Revised Version

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  • Schwarze, Johannes

    (University of Bamberg)

  • Härpfer, Marco

    ()
    (University of Oldenburg)

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    Abstract

    We link life-satisfaction data to inequality of the pre- and post-government income distribution at the regional level, to estimate the degree of inequality aversion. Three different inequality measures are used. In addition, we investigate whether a reduction in inequality by the state increases individual well-being. We find only weak evidence that Germans are inequality averse. Inequality reduction by the state does not increase wellbeing. On the contrary, inequality reduction imposes an excess burden on middle-income earners. The paper uses data from the German Socio-economic Panel Study (GSOEP) from 1985 to 1998.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 974.

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    Length: 27 pages
    Date of creation: Dec 2003
    Date of revision:
    Publication status: published in: Journal of Socio-Economics, 2007, 36 (2), 233-249
    Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp974

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    Keywords: life satisfaction; redistribution; inequality aversion; panel data;

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    1. Roland Benabou & Efe A. Ok, 1998. "Social Mobility and the Demand for Redistribution: The POUM Hypothesis," NBER Working Papers 6795, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Alberto Alesina & Rafael Di Tella & Robert MacCulloch, 2001. "Inequality and Happiness: Are Europeans and Americans Different?," NBER Working Papers 8198, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Thurow, Lester C, 1971. "The Income Distribution as a Pure Public Good," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 85(2), pages 327-36, May.
    4. Corneo, Giacomo & Grüner, Hans Peter, 2001. "Individual Preferences for Political Redistribution," CEPR Discussion Papers 2694, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Morawetz, David, 1977. "Income Distribution and Self-Rated Happiness: Some Empirical Evidence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 87(347), pages 511-22, September.
    6. Alberto Alesina & Edward Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote, 2001. "Why Doesn't the US Have a European-Style Welfare System?," NBER Working Papers 8524, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Moulton, Brent R, 1990. "An Illustration of a Pitfall in Estimating the Effects of Aggregate Variables on Micro Unit," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 72(2), pages 334-38, May.
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    Cited by:
    1. Conchita D'Ambrosio & Joachim R. Frick, 2004. "Subjective Well-Being and Relative Deprivation: An Empirical Link," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 449, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    2. Conchita D'Ambrosio & Joachim R. Frick, 2007. "Individual Well-Being in a Dynamic Perspective," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 673, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    3. Dolan, Paul & Peasgood, Tessa & White, Mathew, 2008. "Do we really know what makes us happy A review of the economic literature on the factors associated with subjective well-being," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 94-122, February.
    4. Dominique Demougin & Claude Fluet & Carsten Helm, 2006. "Output and wages with inequality averse agents," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 39(2), pages 399-413, May.
    5. Gaeta, Giuseppe Lucio, 2011. "In the mood for redistribution. An empirical analysis of individual preferences for redistribution in Italy," MPRA Paper 32049, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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