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Social Mobility and Redistributive Politics


  • Thomas Piketty


Just like economists, voters have conflicting views about redistributive taxation because they estimate its incentive costs differently. We model rational agents as trying to learn from their dynastic income mobility experience the relative importance of effort and predetermined factors in the generation of income inequality and therefore the magnitude of these incentive costs. In the long run, "left-wing dynasties" believing less in individual effort and voting for more redistribution coexist with "right-wing dynasties." This allows us to explain why individual mobility experience and not only current income matters for political attiitudes and how persistent differences in perceptions about social mobility can generate persistent differences in redistribution across countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas Piketty, 1995. "Social Mobility and Redistributive Politics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(3), pages 551-584.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:110:y:1995:i:3:p:551-584.

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