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Why Higher Real Wages May Reduce Altruism for the Poor


  • John B. Horowitz

    () (Department of Economics, Ball State University)


The non-poor need to have information on the existence and the cause of the plight of the poor for redistribution to be a public good. Since gaining this information takes time, the full price of helping the poor includes both the money cost and the time involved in empathizing. Over the last century, the higher real incomes of the poor have reduced the manifestations of poverty. When poverty is less obvious, the non-poor are not as aware of poverty. This article also discusses when redistribution is most likely to be a public good.

Suggested Citation

  • John B. Horowitz, 2002. "Why Higher Real Wages May Reduce Altruism for the Poor," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 28(3), pages 351-362, Summer.
  • Handle: RePEc:eej:eeconj:v:28:y:2002:i:3:p:351-362

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Orr, Larry L, 1976. "Income Transfers as a Public Good: An Application to AFDC," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 66(3), pages 359-371, June.
    2. Brown, Charles C. & Oates, Wallace E., 1987. "Assistance to the poor in a federal system," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 307-330, April.
    3. Breit, William & Horowitz, John B, 1995. "Discrimination and Diversity: Market and Non-market Settings," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 84(1-2), pages 63-75, July.
    4. Andreoni, James, 1990. "Impure Altruism and Donations to Public Goods: A Theory of Warm-Glow Giving?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(401), pages 464-477, June.
    5. Christopher B. Colburn & John B. Horowitz, 1998. "Efficiency Costs and the Demand for Income Redistribution," Public Finance Review, , vol. 26(3), pages 214-230, May.
    6. Browning, Edgar K & Johnson, William R, 1984. "The Trade-Off between Equality and Efficiency," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(2), pages 175-203, April.
    7. Horowitz, John B & Bohanon, Cecil E, 1996. "Income Redistribution: An International Perspective," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 89(3-4), pages 305-323, December.
    8. Menchik, Paul L. & Weisbrod, Burton A., 1987. "Volunteer labor supply," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 159-183, March.
    9. Hochman, Harold M & Rodgers, James D, 1969. "Pareto Optimal Redistribution," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(4), pages 542-557, Part I Se.
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    More about this item


    Altruism; Wage;

    JEL classification:

    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials


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