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Preferences for inequality : East vs. West


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  • Suhrcke, Marc
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    Do preferences for income inequality differ systematically between the post-socialist countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the Western established market economies? This paper analyses 1999 data from a large international survey to address this question. In particular, we examine whether attitudes to inequality differ between East and West even after the ?conventional? determinants of attitudes are controlled for. Results suggest that this is indeed the case. A decade after the breakdown of communism, people in transition countries are indeed significantly more ?egalitarian? than those living in the West, in the sense that they are less willing to tolerate existing income inequalities, even after the actual level of income inequality and other determinants of attitudes are taken into account. These results do not seem to be driven by a recent change in attitudes owing to a rapid rise in inequality during transition, but rather appear to constitute an attitudinal legacy carried over from socialism. This is very likely to have important implications for the political support of reform policy, in particular for the political feasibility of future welfare state reforms in these countries. -- Unterscheiden sich die Präferenzen für Einkommensungleichheit systematisch zwischen den Transformationsländern Mittel- und Osteuropa im Vergleich zu den etablierten Marktwirtschaften Westeuropas? Dieses Papier analysiert die Ergebnisse einer grossen internationalen Umfrage aus dem Jahre 1999. Insbesondere wird untersucht, ob sich die Einstellungen zum Thema Ungleichheit in Ost und West unterscheiden, nachdem für die ?konventionellen? Determinanten dieser Einstellungen kontrolliert wurde. Die Ergebnisse zeigen, dass dies in der Tat der Fall ist. Zehn Jahre nach dem Zusammenbruch des Kommunismus weist die Bevölkerung in den Transformationsländern eine signifikant ?egalitärere? Haltung auf als jene im Westen, insofern als sie weniger tolerant sind gegenüber gegenwärtiger Einkommensungleichheiten, selbst nachdem für das tatsächliche Niveau der Einkommensungleichheit sowie andere Einflussfaktoren kontrolliert wurde. Diese Ergebnisse scheinen auch nicht auf den relativ starken Anstieg der Ungleichheit während der Transformation zurückzuführen zu sein, sondern können eher als ein Erbe aus der sozialistischen Zeit betrachtet werden. Dies hat wesentliche Implikationen für den Grad an politischer Unterstützung zukünftiger Reformpolitik, insbesondere die politische Umsetzbarkeit von Reformen des Wohlfahrtsstaats in den Transformationsländern.

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    Paper provided by Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWA) in its series HWWA Discussion Papers with number 150.

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    Date of creation: 2001
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    Handle: RePEc:zbw:hwwadp:26369

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    Keywords: Inequality; transition countries; attitudes;

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    1. John Flemming & John Micklewright, 1999. "Income Distribution, Economic Systems and Transition," Innocenti Occasional Papers, Economic Policy Series, UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre iopeps99/69, UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre.
    2. Alberto Alesina & Eliana La Ferrara, 2001. "Preferences for Redistribution in the Land of Opportunities," NBER Working Papers 8267, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Delhey, Jan, 1999. "Inequality and attitudes: postcommunism, western capitalism and beyond," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Social Structure and Social Reporting, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB) FS III 99-403, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
    4. Di Tella, Rafael & Alesina, Alberto & MacCulloch, Robert, 2004. "Inequality and Happiness: Are Europeans and Americans Different?," Scholarly Articles 4553007, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    5. Andrew Newell & Barry Reilly, 1999. "Rates of Return to Educational Qualifications in the Transitional Economies," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 7(1), pages 67-84.
    6. Thomas Piketty, 1994. "Social Mobility and Redistributive Politics," Working papers, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics 94-15, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
    7. Gerry Redmond & Sylke Schnepf & Marc Suhrcke, 2002. "Attitudes to Inequality after Ten Years of Transition," Innocenti Working Papers inwopa02/21, UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre.
    8. Piketty, Thomas, 1999. "Attitudes toward income inequality in France: Do people really disagree?," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Couverture Orange) 9918, CEPREMAP.
    9. Ravallion, Martin & Lokshin, Michael, 2000. "Who wants to redistribute?: The tunnel effect in 1990s Russia," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 76(1), pages 87-104, April.
    10. Meltzer, Allan H & Richard, Scott F, 1981. "A Rational Theory of the Size of Government," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 914-27, October.
    11. Romer, Thomas, 1975. "Individual welfare, majority voting, and the properties of a linear income tax," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 163-185, February.
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    Cited by:
    1. Dimitris Kallioras & George Petrakos & Georgios Fotopoulos, 2005. "Economic integration, regional structural change and cohesion in the EU new member-states," ERSA conference papers ersa05p383, European Regional Science Association.
    2. Tiiu Paas, 2003. "Social Consequences of Transition and European Integration Processes in the Baltic States," ERSA conference papers ersa03p382, European Regional Science Association.
    3. Pfarr, Christian, 2012. "Meltzer-Richard and social mobility hypothesis: revisiting the income-redistribution nexus using German choice data," MPRA Paper 43325, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Gruen, Carola & Klasen, Stephan, 2012. "Has transition improved well-being?," Economic Systems, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 11-30.
    5. Lübker, Malte, 2005. "Globalization and perceptions of social inequality," ILO Working Papers, International Labour Organization 376167, International Labour Organization.
    6. Pfarr, Christian & Schmid, Andreas & Ulrich, Volker, 2013. "You can't always get what you want - East and West Germans' attitudes and preferences regarding the welfare state," MPRA Paper 47240, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Tanja Hennighausen, 2013. "Exposure to Television and Individual Beliefs: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 535, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).


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