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Distributional preferences and political behavior

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  • Fisman, Raymond
  • Jakiela, Pamela
  • Kariv, Shachar

Abstract

We document the relationship between distributional preferences and voting decisions in a large and diverse sample of Americans. Using a generalized dictator game, we generate individual-level measures of fair-mindedness (the weight on oneself versus others) and equality-efficiency tradeoffs. Subjects' equality-efficiency tradeoffs predict their political decisions: equality-focused subjects are more likely to have voted for Barack Obama in 2012, and to be affiliated with the Democratic Party. Our findings shed light on how American voters are motivated by their distributional preferences.

Suggested Citation

  • Fisman, Raymond & Jakiela, Pamela & Kariv, Shachar, 2017. "Distributional preferences and political behavior," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 155(C), pages 1-10.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:155:y:2017:i:c:p:1-10
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2017.08.010
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Distributional preferences; Social preferences; Fair-mindedness; Self-interest impartiality; Equality; Efficiency; Redistribution; Political decisions; Voting; Party affiliation; American Life Panel (ALP); Experiment;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers

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