IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/spr/empeco/v59y2020i5d10.1007_s00181-019-01722-4.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

The individual (mis-)perception of wage inequality: measurement, correlates and implications

Author

Listed:
  • Andreas Kuhn

    (University of Bern and IZA)

Abstract

This paper presents a simple conceptual framework specifically tailored to measure individual perceptions of wage inequality. Using internationally comparable survey data, the empirical part of the paper documents that there is huge variation in inequality perceptions both across and within countries as well as survey-years. Focusing on the association between aggregate-level inequality measures and individuals’ subjective perception of wage inequality, it turns out that there are both a high correlation between the two measures and a considerable amount of misperception of the prevailing level of inequality. The final part of the analysis shows that subjective inequality perceptions appear to be more important, in a statistical sense, in explaining variation in individual-level attitudes toward social inequality than objective measures of inequality. This underlines the conceptual and practical importance of distinguishing between subjective perceptions of inequality and the true level of inequality.

Suggested Citation

  • Andreas Kuhn, 2020. "The individual (mis-)perception of wage inequality: measurement, correlates and implications," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 59(5), pages 2039-2069, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:empeco:v:59:y:2020:i:5:d:10.1007_s00181-019-01722-4
    DOI: 10.1007/s00181-019-01722-4
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://link.springer.com/10.1007/s00181-019-01722-4
    File Function: Abstract
    Download Restriction: Access to the full text of the articles in this series is restricted.

    File URL: https://libkey.io/10.1007/s00181-019-01722-4?utm_source=ideas
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item
    ---><---

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Dohmen, Thomas & Falk, Armin & Huffman, David & Marklein, Felix & Sunde, Uwe, 2009. "Biased probability judgment: Evidence of incidence and relationship to economic outcomes from a representative sample," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 72(3), pages 903-915, December.
    2. Reto Odermatt & Alois Stutzer, 2019. "(Mis-)Predicted Subjective Well-Being Following Life Events," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 17(1), pages 245-283.
    3. Paolo Verme, 2011. "Life Satisfaction And Income Inequality," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 57(1), pages 111-127, March.
    4. Simone Schneider, 2012. "Income Inequality and its Consequences for Life Satisfaction: What Role do Social Cognitions Play?," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 106(3), pages 419-438, May.
    5. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2006. "Belief in a Just World and Redistributive Politics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(2), pages 699-746.
    6. David Card & Alexandre Mas & Enrico Moretti & Emmanuel Saez, 2012. "Inequality at Work: The Effect of Peer Salaries on Job Satisfaction," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(6), pages 2981-3003, October.
    7. Alberto Alesina & George-Marios Angeletos, 2005. "Fairness and Redistribution," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 960-980, September.
    8. Cornelißen, T. & Himmler, O. & Koenig, T., 2011. "Perceived unfairness in CEO compensation and work morale," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 110(1), pages 45-48, January.
    9. Gastwirth, Joseph L & Glauberman, Marcia, 1976. "The Interpolation of the Lorenz Curve and Gini Index from Grouped Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 44(3), pages 479-483, May.
    10. Christian Pfeifer, 2015. "UnfairWage Perceptions and Sleep: Evidence from German Survey Data," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 135(4), pages 413-428.
    11. Kakwani, N C & Podder, N, 1973. "On the Estimation of Lorenz Curves from Grouped Observations," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 14(2), pages 278-292, June.
    12. Arindrajit Dube & Laura Giuliano & Jonathan Leonard, 2019. "Fairness and Frictions: The Impact of Unequal Raises on Quit Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 109(2), pages 620-663, February.
    13. Paolo Brunori, 2017. "The Perception of Inequality of Opportunity in Europe," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 63(3), pages 464-491, September.
    14. Cowell, F.A., 2000. "Measurement of inequality," Handbook of Income Distribution, in: A.B. Atkinson & F. Bourguignon (ed.), Handbook of Income Distribution, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 2, pages 87-166, Elsevier.
    15. Vladimir Gimpelson & Daniel Treisman, 2018. "Misperceiving inequality," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 30(1), pages 27-54, March.
    16. Sebastiano Bavetta & Paolo Li Donni & Maria Marino, 2019. "An Empirical Analysis of the Determinants of Perceived Inequality," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 65(2), pages 264-292, June.
    17. Ilyana Kuziemko & Michael I. Norton & Emmanuel Saez & Stefanie Stantcheva, 2015. "How Elastic Are Preferences for Redistribution? Evidence from Randomized Survey Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(4), pages 1478-1508, April.
    18. Kuhn, Andreas, 2019. "The subversive nature of inequality: Subjective inequality perceptions and attitudes to social inequality," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 331-344.
    19. Rafael Di Tella & Sebastian Galiant & Ernesto Schargrodsky, 2007. "The Formation of Beliefs: Evidence from the Allocation of Land Titles to Squatters," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(1), pages 209-241.
    20. Alberto Alesina & Nicola Fuchs-Schundeln, 2005. "Good bye Lenin (or not?): The effect of Communism on people's preferences," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2076, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    21. Tomson Ogwang, 2003. "Bounds of the Gini Index Using Sparse Information on Mean Incomes," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 49(3), pages 415-423, September.
    22. Petrova, Maria, 2008. "Inequality and media capture," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1-2), pages 183-212, February.
    23. Cruces, Guillermo & Perez-Truglia, Ricardo & Tetaz, Martin, 2013. "Biased perceptions of income distribution and preferences for redistribution: Evidence from a survey experiment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 100-112.
    24. Fuller, Mike, 1979. "The estimation of Gini coefficients from grouped data : Upper and Lower Bounds," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 187-192.
    25. Kuhn, Andreas, 2011. "In the eye of the beholder: Subjective inequality measures and individuals' assessment of market justice," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 625-641.
    26. A. Colin Cameron & Douglas L. Miller, 2015. "A Practitioner’s Guide to Cluster-Robust Inference," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 50(2), pages 317-372.
    27. Kimmo Eriksson & Brent Simpson, 2012. "What do Americans know about inequality? It depends on how you ask them," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 7(6), pages 741-745, November.
    28. Andreas Kuhn, 2017. "International Evidence on the Perception and Normative Valuation of Executive Compensation," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 55(1), pages 112-136, March.
    29. Andreas Kuhn, 2013. "Inequality Perceptions, Distributional Norms, and Redistributive Preferences in East and West Germany," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 14(4), pages 483-499, November.
    30. Norman Gemmell & Oliver Morrissey & Abuzer Pinar, 2004. "Tax perceptions and preferences over tax structure in the united kingdom," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(493), pages 117-138, February.
    31. Claudia Senik, 2005. "Income distribution and well-being: what can we learn from subjective data?," Post-Print halshs-00754101, HAL.
    32. Trump, Kris-Stella, 2018. "Income Inequality Influences Perceptions of Legitimate Income Differences," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 48(4), pages 929-952, October.
    33. Engelhardt, Carina & Wagener, Andreas, 2014. "Biased Perceptions of Income Inequality and Redistribution," VfS Annual Conference 2014 (Hamburg): Evidence-based Economic Policy 100395, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    34. Moulton, Brent R, 1990. "An Illustration of a Pitfall in Estimating the Effects of Aggregate Variables on Micro Unit," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 72(2), pages 334-338, May.
    35. Frederick Solt, 2015. "On the assessment and use of cross-national income inequality datasets," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 13(4), pages 683-691, December.
    36. Frederick Solt, 2016. "The Standardized World Income Inequality Database," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 97(5), pages 1267-1281, November.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Andreas Kuhn, 0. "The individual (mis-)perception of wage inequality: measurement, correlates and implications," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 0, pages 1-31.
    2. Kuhn, Andreas, 2015. "The Individual Perception of Wage Inequality: A Measurement Framework and Some Empirical Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 9579, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. Kuhn, Andreas, 2019. "The subversive nature of inequality: Subjective inequality perceptions and attitudes to social inequality," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 331-344.
    4. Andreas Kuhn, 2016. "The Subversive Nature of Inequality: Subjective Inequality Perceptions and Attitudes to Social Inequality," CESifo Working Paper Series 6023, CESifo.
    5. Kuhn, Andreas, 2015. "The Subversive Nature of Inequality: Subjective Inequality Perceptions and Attitudes to Social Inequality," IZA Discussion Papers 9406, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    6. Knell, Markus & Stix, Helmut, 2020. "Perceptions of inequality," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 65(C).
    7. Gwangeun Choi, 2021. "Individuals’ socioeconomic position, inequality perceptions, and redistributive preferences in OECD countries," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 19(2), pages 239-264, June.
    8. Choi, Gwangeun, 2019. "Revisiting the redistribution hypothesis with perceived inequality and redistributive preferences," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 220-244.
    9. Gimpelson, V. & Chernina, E., 2020. "How we perceive our place in income distribution and how the perceptions deviate from reality," Journal of the New Economic Association, New Economic Association, vol. 46(2), pages 30-56.
    10. Bavetta, Sebastiano & Li Donni, Paolo & Marino, Maria, 2020. "How consistent are perceptions of inequality?," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 78(C).
    11. Brock, J. Michelle, 2020. "Unfair inequality, governance and individual beliefs," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(3), pages 658-687.
    12. Kuhn, Andreas, 2009. "Demand for Redistribution, Support for the Welfare State, and Party Identification in Austria," IZA Discussion Papers 4449, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    13. Benjamin Schalembier, 2019. "An Evaluation of Common Explanations for the Impact of Income Inequality on Life Satisfaction," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 20(3), pages 777-794, March.
    14. Kuhn, Andreas, 2011. "In the eye of the beholder: Subjective inequality measures and individuals' assessment of market justice," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 625-641.
    15. Vladimir Gimpelson & Daniel Treisman, 2018. "Misperceiving inequality," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 30(1), pages 27-54, March.
    16. Kuhn, Andreas, 2009. "In the Eye of the Beholder: Subjective Inequality Measures and the Demand for Redistribution," IZA Discussion Papers 4360, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    17. Andreoli, Francesco & Olivera, Javier, 2020. "Preferences for redistribution and exposure to tax-benefit schemes in Europe," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 63(C).
    18. Roth, Christopher & Wohlfart, Johannes, 2018. "Experienced inequality and preferences for redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 167(C), pages 251-262.
    19. Lin Yang, 2018. "The relationship between poverty and inequality: Resource constraint mechanisms," CASE Papers /212, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, LSE.
    20. Mounir Karadja & Johanna Mollerstrom & David Seim, 2017. "Richer (and Holier) Than Thou? The Effect of Relative Income Improvements on Demand for Redistribution," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 99(2), pages 201-212, May.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Inequality perceptions; Inequality; (Mis-)perceptions of socioeconomic phenomena; Attitudes toward social inequality;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:spr:empeco:v:59:y:2020:i:5:d:10.1007_s00181-019-01722-4. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: http://www.springer.com .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Sonal Shukla or Springer Nature Abstracting and Indexing (email available below). General contact details of provider: http://www.springer.com .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.