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Leaky Bucket in the Real World: Estimating Inequality Aversion Using Survey Data

  • Jukka Pirttilä
  • Roope Uusitalo

Existing evidence of inequality aversion relies on data from class-room experiments where subjects face hypothetical questions. This paper estimates the magnitude of inequality aversion using representative survey data, with questions related to the real-economy situations the respondents face. The results reveal that the magnitude of inequality aversion can be measured in a meaningful way using survey data, but the estimates depend dramatically on the framing of the question. No matter how measured, the revealed inequality aversion predicts opinions on a wide range of questions related to the welfare state, such as the level of taxation, tax progressivity and the structure of unemployment benefits.

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File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/portal/page/portal/DocBase_Content/WP/WP-CESifo_Working_Papers/wp-cesifo-2007/wp-cesifo-2007-06/cesifo1_wp2026.pdf
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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2026.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2026
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  1. Tito Boeri & Axel Börsch-Supan & Guido Tabellini, 2001. "Would you like to shrink the welfare state? A survey of European citizens," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 16(32), pages 7-50, 04.
  2. Corneo, Giacomo & Gruner, Hans Peter, 2002. "Individual preferences for political redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(1), pages 83-107, January.
  3. Ahmad, Ehtisham & Stern, Nicholas, 1984. "The theory of reform and indian indirect taxes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 259-298, December.
  4. Engelmann Dirk & Strobel Martin, 2002. "Inequality Aversion, Efficiency, and Maximin Preferences in Simple Distribution Experiments," Research Memorandum 015, Maastricht University, Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
  5. Tuomala, Matti, 1990. "Optimal Income Tax and Redistribution," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198286059, March.
  6. Christiansen, Vidar & Jansen, Eilev S., 1978. "Implicit social preferences in the Norwegian system of indirect taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 217-245, October.
  7. Alberto Alesina & George-Marios Angeletos, 2004. "Fairness and Redistribution," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000283, UCLA Department of Economics.
  8. Carlsson, Fredrik & Daruvala, Dinky & Johansson-Stenman, Olof, 2001. "Are People Inequality Averse Or Just Risk Averse?," Working Papers in Economics 43, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  9. Amiel, Yoram & Creedy, John & Hurn, Stan, 1999. " Measuring Attitudes towards Inequality," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 101(1), pages 83-96, March.
  10. Robert B. Barsky & Miles S. Kimball & F. Thomas Juster & Matthew D. Shapiro, 1995. "Preference Parameters and Behavioral Heterogeneity: An Experimental Approach in the Health and Retirement Survey," NBER Working Papers 5213, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Atkinson, Anthony B., 1970. "On the measurement of inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 244-263, September.
  12. Yoram Kroll & Liema Davidovitz, 2003. "Inequality Aversion versus Risk Aversion," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 70(277), pages 19-29, February.
  13. Barsky, Robert B, et al, 1997. "Preference Parameters and Behavioral Heterogeneity: An Experimental Approach in the Health and Retirement Study," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 537-79, May.
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