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Fighting Poverty in the US and Europe: A World of Difference


  • Alesina, Alberto

    (Harvard University)

  • Glaeser, Edward

    (Harvard University)


As events highlight deep divisions in attitudes between America and Europe, this is a very timely study of different approaches to the problems of domestic inequality and poverty. Based on careful and systematic analysis of national data, the authors describe just how much the two continents differ in their level of State engagement in the redistribution of income. Discussing various possible economic explanations for the difference, they cover different levels of pre-tax income, openness, and social mobility; they survey politico-historical differences such as the varying physical size of nations, their electoral and legal systems, and the character of their political parties, as well as their experiences of war; and they examine sociological explanations, which include different attitudes to the poor and notions of social responsibility. Most importantly, they address attitudes to race, calculating that attitudes to race explain half the observed difference in levels of public redistribution of income. This important and provocative analysis will captivate academic and serious lay readers in economics and welfare systems.

Suggested Citation

  • Alesina, Alberto & Glaeser, Edward, 2005. "Fighting Poverty in the US and Europe: A World of Difference," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199286102.
  • Handle: RePEc:oxp:obooks:9780199286102

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Bergh, Andreas, 2006. "Explaining Welfare State Survival: The Role of Economic Freedom and Globalization," Ratio Working Papers 101, The Ratio Institute.
    2. Yosr Abid & Cathal O'Donoghue & Denisa Sologon, 2016. "Decomposing Welfare Inequality in Egypt and Tunisia: an Oaxaca-Blinder Based Approach," Working Papers 1015, Economic Research Forum, revised Jun 2016.
    3. Alberto Alesina & Bryony Reich, 2013. "Nation Building," NBER Working Papers 18839, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Andrea Tesei, 2015. "Trust and Racial Income Inequality: Evidence from the U.S," CEP Discussion Papers dp1331, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    5. Elena Bárcena-Martín & Ana I. Moro Egido, 2013. "Country differences in the gender effect on poverty in Europe," ThE Papers 13/02, Department of Economic Theory and Economic History of the University of Granada..
    6. Roland, G�rard & Yang, David, 2017. "China's Lost Generation: Changes in Beliefs and their Intergenerational Transmission," CEPR Discussion Papers 12053, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. SOLOGON Denisa & VAN KERM Philippe & LI Jinjing & O'DONOGHUE Cathal, 2018. "Accounting for Differences in Income Inequality across Countries: Ireland and the United Kingdom," LISER Working Paper Series 2018-01, LISER.
    8. Eisenkopf, Gerald & Fischbacher, Urs & Föllmi-Heusi, Franziska, 2013. "Unequal opportunities and distributive justice," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 51-61.
    9. Max Haller & Anja Eder & Erwin Stolz, 2016. "Ethnic Stratification and Patterns of Income Inequality Around the World: A Cross-National Comparison of 123 Countries, Based on a New Index of Historic Ethnic Exploitation," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 128(3), pages 1047-1084, September.
    10. Gerard Roland & David Y. Yang, 2017. "China's Lost Generation: Changes in Beliefs and their Intergenerational Transmission," NBER Working Papers 23441, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. repec:eee:macchp:v2-2599 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Jon Olaskoaga-Larrauri & Ricardo Aláez-Aller & Pablo Díaz-de-Basurto, 2010. "Measuring is Believing! Improving Conventional Indicators of Welfare State Development," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 96(1), pages 113-131, March.
    13. Dorel N Manitiu & Giulio Pedrini, 2015. "Smart and sustainable cities in the European Union. An ex ante assessment of environmental, social, and cultural domains," SEEDS Working Papers 1315, SEEDS, Sustainability Environmental Economics and Dynamics Studies, revised Jul 2015.
    14. Steven Poelhekke, 2006. "Do Amenities and Diversity Encourage City Growth? A Link Through Skilled Labor," Economics Working Papers ECO2006/10, European University Institute.
    15. Feigl, Andrea B. & Ding, Eric L., 2013. "Evidenced Formal Coverage Index and universal healthcare enactment: A prospective longitudinal study of economic, social, and political predictors of 194 countries," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 113(1), pages 50-60.
    16. Yosr Abid & Cathal O'Donoghue & Denisa Sologon, 2016. "Exploring the Determinants of Welfare Distribution in Tunisia and Egypt Using a Welfare Generation Model," Working Papers 1009, Economic Research Forum, revised Jun 2016.
    17. Todd Honeycutt & Lorenzo Moreno, 2014. "Experiences of Germany and the Netherlands in Serving Transition-Age Youth," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 5f0b78af2cb3404d9ea7b1154, Mathematica Policy Research.
    18. d'Agostino, Giorgio & Pieroni, Luca & Procidano, Isabella, 2016. "Revisiting the relationship between welfare spending and income inequality in OECD countries," MPRA Paper 72020, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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