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Biased Perceptions of Income Inequality and Redistribution

Author

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  • Carina Engelhardt
  • Andreas Wagener

Abstract

When based on perceived rather than on objective income distributions, the Meltzer-Richards hypothesis and the POUM hypothesis work quite well empirically: there exists a positive link between perceived inequality or perceived upward mobility and the extent of redistribution in democratic regimes – though such a link does not exist when objective measures of inequality and social mobility are used. These observations highlight that political preferences and choices might depend more on perceptions than on factual data.

Suggested Citation

  • Carina Engelhardt & Andreas Wagener, 2014. "Biased Perceptions of Income Inequality and Redistribution," CESifo Working Paper Series 4838, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_4838
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Alesina, Alberto & La Ferrara, Eliana, 2005. "Preferences for redistribution in the land of opportunities," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(5-6), pages 897-931, June.
    2. Andreas Georgiadis & Alan Manning, 2012. "Spend it like Beckham? Inequality and redistribution in the UK, 1983–2004," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 151(3), pages 537-563, June.
    3. Roland Benabou & Efe A. Ok, 2001. "Social Mobility and the Demand for Redistribution: The Poum Hypothesis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(2), pages 447-487.
    4. Christian Bredemeier, 2014. "Imperfect information and the Meltzer-Richard hypothesis," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 159(3), pages 561-576, June.
    5. Corneo, Giacomo & Gruner, Hans Peter, 2002. "Individual preferences for political redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(1), pages 83-107, January.
    6. Leslie McCall & Lane Kenworthy, 2007. "Inequality, Public Opinion, and Redistribution," LIS Working papers 459, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    7. Bjørnskov, Christian & Dreher, Axel & Fischer, Justina A.V. & Schnellenbach, Jan & Gehring, Kai, 2013. "Inequality and happiness: When perceived social mobility and economic reality do not match," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 75-92.
    8. Francesco Scervini, 2012. "Empirics of the median voter: democracy, redistribution and the role of the middle class," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 10(4), pages 529-550, December.
    9. 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.
    10. Borge, Lars-Erik & Rattso, J.Jorn, 2004. "Income distribution and tax structure: Empirical test of the Meltzer-Richard hypothesis," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 48(4), pages 805-826, August.
    11. Romer, Thomas, 1975. "Individual welfare, majority voting, and the properties of a linear income tax," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 163-185, February.
    12. Gouveia, Miguel & Masia, Neal A, 1998. "Does the Median Voter Model Explain the Size of Government?: Evidence from the States," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 97(1-2), pages 159-177, October.
    13. Meltzer, Allan H & Richard, Scott F, 1981. "A Rational Theory of the Size of Government," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 914-927, October.
    14. Milanovic, Branko, 2000. "The median-voter hypothesis, income inequality, and income redistribution: an empirical test with the required data," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 367-410, September.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Aboozar Hadavand, 2017. "Misperceptions and mismeasurements: An analysis of subjective economic inequality," Working Papers 449, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
    2. Knell, Markus & Stix, Helmut, 2016. "Perceptions of Inequality," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145718, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    3. Bublitz, Elisabeth, 2016. "Misperceptions of income distributions: Cross-country evidence from a randomized survey experiment," HWWI Research Papers 178, Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI).
    4. Corneo, Giacomo & Neher, Frank, 2015. "Democratic redistribution and rule of the majority," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 40(PA), pages 96-109.
    5. repec:eee:jcecon:v:45:y:2017:i:4:p:930-962 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Carina Engelhardt & Andreas Wagener, 2016. "What do Germans think and know about income inequality? A survey experiment," Working Papers 389, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
    7. Kuhn, Andreas, 2015. "The Individual Perception of Wage Inequality: A Measurement Framework and Some Empirical Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 9579, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Beck Hanno & Prinz Aloys, 2014. "Willkommen in Schumpeters Hotel: Zur Dynamik der Vermögensverteilung / Welcome to Schumpeter's hotel – On the dynamics of the distribution of wealth," ORDO. Jahrbuch für die Ordnung von Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft, De Gruyter, vol. 65(1), pages 263-278, January.
    9. Dorn, Florian & Fuest, Clemens & Immel, Lea & Neumeier, Florian, 2018. "Inequality and Extremist Voting: Evidence from Germany," Annual Conference 2018 (Freiburg, Breisgau): Digital Economy 181598, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    10. repec:gam:jsoctx:v:8:y:2018:i:4:p:99-:d:175912 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Ivo Bischoff & Nataliya Kusa, 2015. "Policy preferences for inheritance taxation," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201531, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
    12. Ivo Bischoff & Nataliya Kusa, 2016. "Should wealth transfers be taxed? Citizens’ view on a fundamental question," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201636, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
    13. repec:eee:poleco:v:53:y:2018:i:c:p:161-185 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Diermeier, Matthias & Goecke, Henry & Niehues, Judith & Thomas, Tobias, 2017. "Impact of inequality-related media coverage on the concerns of the citzens," DICE Discussion Papers 258, University of Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).
    15. Gründler, Klaus & Köllner, Sebastian, 2017. "Determinants of governmental redistribution: Income distribution, development levels, and the role of perceptions," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(4), pages 930-962.
    16. Philipp Poppitz, 2016. "Does self-perceptions and income inequality match?," IMK Working Paper 173-2016, IMK at the Hans Boeckler Foundation, Macroeconomic Policy Institute.
    17. Feld Lars P. & Schmidt Christoph M., 2016. "Jenseits der schrillen Töne," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, De Gruyter, vol. 17(2), pages 188-205, July.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    biased perception; majority voting; redistribution;

    JEL classification:

    • H53 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Welfare Programs
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution

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