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Attitudes towards Risk and Inequality: A Questionnaire-Experimental Approach

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  • Yoram Amiel
  • Frank A Cowell

Abstract

Orderings of income distribution in terms of inequality should be closely related to orderings in terms of risk. Using a novel mult-country questgionnaire experiment we examine the basis for this claim in terms of respondents' distributional perceptions. We show that in terms of both inequality and risk individuals consistently reject one of the standard axioms of distributional comparison. Moreover, there are significant differences in the 'maps' of inequality and risk comparisons. Rejection of the orthodox approach is less likely to occur when distributional comparisons involve extremes of the distributions.We show that certain key background variables are overwhelmingly important in predisposing individuals toward acceptance or rejection of the orthodox basis for distributional comparisons. This paper forms part of the research programme of the TMR network Living Standards, Inequality and Taxation [Contract No. ERBFMRXCT 980248] of the European Communities whose financial support is gratefully acknowledged.

Suggested Citation

  • Yoram Amiel & Frank A Cowell, 2001. "Attitudes towards Risk and Inequality: A Questionnaire-Experimental Approach," STICERD - Distributional Analysis Research Programme Papers 56, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:stidar:56
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    File URL: http://sticerd.lse.ac.uk/dps/darp/DARP56.pdf
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    Cited by:

    1. Yoram Amiel & Frank Cowell & Wulf Gaertner, 2009. "To be or not to be involved: a questionnaire-experimental view on Harsanyi’s utilitarian ethics," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 32(2), pages 299-316, February.
    2. Yoram Amiel & Frank Cowell & Liema Davidovitz & Avraham Polovin, 2008. "Preference reversals and the analysis of income distributions," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 30(2), pages 305-330, February.
    3. Cowell, Frank & Cruces, Guillermo, 2003. "Perceptions of risk : an experimental approach using internet questionnaires," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 2235, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    4. Yoram Amiel & Frank Cowell & Wulf Gaertner, 2012. "Distributional orderings: an approach with seven flavors," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 73(3), pages 381-399, September.
    5. Gaertner, Wulf & Namazie, Ceema, 2003. "Income inequality, risk, and the transfer principle: A questionnaire-experimental investigation," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 45(2), pages 229-245, April.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Inequality; risk; experiment; transfer principle.;

    JEL classification:

    • C13 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Estimation: General
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement

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