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Effort and Redistribution: Better Cousins Than One Might Have Thought

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  • Claudia M. Buch

    (Deutsche Bundesbank)

  • Christoph Engel

    ()
    (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Bonn)

Abstract

In this paper, we analyze the link between effort and preferences for redistribution. If individ-uals hold standard preferences, those with higher ability exert more effort. Higher effort leads to a higher income. Individuals with a higher income oppose redistribution. Yet, under non-standard preferences, the link between effort and redistribution is not clear-cut. If aversion to inequity is sufficiently strong, even individuals with high ability may support redistribution. In a lab experiment, we indeed find that participants with higher ability are willing to help the needy if earning income becomes more difficult for everybody. To check whether this finding is externally valid, we use data from the World Value Survey. We do not find a significant positive effect of preferences for effort on preferences for redistribution, but we also do not find the significant negative effect predicted by standard theory. Also, in the field, those who have to pay for redistribution are not more likely to be opposed than the recipients.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods in its series Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods with number 2012_10.

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Date of creation: Apr 2012
Date of revision: Sep 2014
Handle: RePEc:mpg:wpaper:2012_10

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Keywords: Effort; redistribution; ability; experiment; survey data; simultaneous equation model;

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  1. Fuchs-Schundeln, Nicola & Alesina, Alberto, 2007. "Good-Bye Lenin (Or Not?): The Effect of Communism on People's Preferences," Scholarly Articles 4553032, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Alesina, Alberto & Giuliano, Paola, 2009. "Preferences for Redistribution," IZA Discussion Papers 4056, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  6. Klor, Esteban F & Shayo, Moses, 2007. "Social Identity and Preferences over Redistribution," CEPR Discussion Papers 6406, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Antonio Cabrales & Rosemarie Nagel & José Rodríguez Mora, 2012. "It is Hobbes, not Rousseau: an experiment on voting and redistribution," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 278-308, June.
  8. 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.
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  10. Tim Krieger & Stefan Traub, 2008. "Back to Bismarck? Shifting Preferences for Intragenerational Redistribution in OECD Pension Systems," Working Papers CIE 13, University of Paderborn, CIE Center for International Economics.
  11. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 1999. "Political Economics and Public Finance," NBER Working Papers 7097, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Fong, Christina, 2001. "Social preferences, self-interest, and the demand for redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 225-246, November.
  13. James Konow, 2000. "Fair Shares: Accountability and Cognitive Dissonance in Allocation Decisions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 1072-1091, September.
  14. Schokkaert, Erik & Capeau, Bart, 1991. "Interindividual Differences in Opinions about Distributive Justice," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(3), pages 325-45.
  15. Selten, Reinhard & Ockenfels, Axel, 1998. "An experimental solidarity game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 517-539, March.
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