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Has the attitude of US citizens towards redistribution changed over time?

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  • Pittau, Maria Grazia
  • Farcomeni, Alessio
  • Zelli, Roberto

Abstract

This paper provides new stylized facts on how support for redistribution in the United Stated has changed over time. Since detecting structural changes in individual attitudes requires long periods of time, we used repeated cross-sectional data from the General Social Survey (GSS) cumulative Datafile that include twenty cross-sectional surveys and span a period of over thirty years (1978–2010). A multilevel logistic model with time-varying slopes and two independent levels of variation allowed us to capture temporal patterns net of age and cohort effects. Despite an overall flat trend in demand for redistribution, we find that driving factors in shaping redistributive preferences have changed considerably over time. These changes are little influenced by birth cohort. Specifically, personal income is a strong predictor, with the poor–rich gap increasing over time. Elderly people are more adverse to redistribute than they were in the past. Large changes also characterize the effects of education, ethnic bonds and self-declared party identification. Over time, highly educated people have increased their probability to be in favor of redistribution while the less educated have become less prone. Ethnicity mattered more in the 1970s than in the 2000s and it is increasingly mediated by the political party affiliation of individuals.

Suggested Citation

  • Pittau, Maria Grazia & Farcomeni, Alessio & Zelli, Roberto, 2016. "Has the attitude of US citizens towards redistribution changed over time?," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 52(PB), pages 714-724.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecmode:v:52:y:2016:i:pb:p:714-724
    DOI: 10.1016/j.econmod.2015.09.039
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    Cited by:

    1. Sophie Harnay & Elisabeth Tovar, 2017. "Obeying vs. resisting unfair laws. A structural analysis of the internalization of collective preferences on redistribution using classification trees and random forests," EconomiX Working Papers 2017-34, University of Paris Nanterre, EconomiX.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Individual preferences; Demand for redistribution; Multilevel logistic with time-varying slopes model; Weakly informative priors;

    JEL classification:

    • C3 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D6 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies

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