IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Belief in a Just World and Redistributive Politics

  • Benabou, Roland

    (Princeton U)

  • Tirole, Jean

    (U of Toulouse)

International surveys reveal wide differences between the views held in different countries concerning the causes of wealth or poverty and the extent to which people are responsible for their own fate. At the same time, social ethnographies and experiments by psychologists demonstrate individuals' recurrent struggle with cognitive dissonance as they seek to maintain, and pass on to their children, a view of the world where effort ultimately pays off and everyone gets their just deserts. This paper offers a model that helps explain: i) why most people feel such a need to believe in a "just world"; ii) why this need, and therefore the prevalence of the belief, varies considerably across countries; iii) the implications of this phenomenon for international differences in political ideology, levels of redistribution, labor supply, aggregate income, and popular perceptions of the poor. The model shows in particular how complementarities arise endogenously between individuals' desired beliefs or ideological choices, resulting in two equilibria. A first, "American" equilibrium is characterized by a high prevalence of just-world beliefs among the population and relatively laissez-faire policies. The other, "European" equilibrium is characterized by more pessimism about the role of effort in economic outcomes and a more extensive welfare state. More generally, the paper develops a theory of collective beliefs and motivated cognitions, including those concerning "money" (consumption) and happiness, as well as religion.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://www.princeton.edu/~rbenabou/beliefs12send.pdf
Our checks indicate that this address may not be valid because: 404 Not Found. If this is indeed the case, please notify ()


Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Princeton University, Research Program in Political Economy in its series Papers with number 08-15-2005a.

as
in new window

Length:
Date of creation: Dec 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ecl:prirpe:08-15-2005a
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://weblamp.princeton.edu/rppe/papers/papers.php

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Bisin, Alberto & Verdier, Thierry, 2000. "A model of cultural transmission, voting and political ideology," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 5-29, March.
  2. Benabou, R. & Ok, E.A., 1998. "Social Mobility and the Demand for Redistribution: The POUM Hypothesis," Working Papers 98-23, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  3. Hirschman, Albert O & Rothschild, Michael, 1973. "The Changing Tolerance for Income Inequality in the Course of Economic Development; with a Mathematical Appendix," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 87(4), pages 544-66, November.
  4. Julio J. Rotemberg, 2002. "Perceptions of Equity and the Distribution of Income," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(2), pages 249-288, Part.
  5. Alberto Alesina & George-Marios Angeletos, 2005. "Fairness and Redistribution," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 960-980, September.
  6. Markus K. Brunnermeier & Jonathan A. Parker, 2004. "Optimal Expectations," NBER Working Papers 10707, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Laurence R. Iannaccone, 1998. "Introduction to the Economics of Religion," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(3), pages 1465-1495, September.
  8. Joan M. Esteban & Laurence Kranich, 2002. "Redistributive Taxation with Endogenous Sentiments," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 529.02, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
  9. Joan Esteban & Laurence Kranich, . "Redistributive Taxation With Endogenous Sentiments," Working Papers 33-02 Classification-JEL , Instituto de Estudios Fiscales.
  10. Loewenstein, George & O'Donoghue, Ted & Rabin, Matthew, 2002. "Projection Bias in Predicting Future Utility," Working Papers 02-11, Cornell University, Center for Analytic Economics.
  11. Piketty, Thomas, 1995. "Social Mobility and Redistributive Politics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(3), pages 551-84, August.
  12. Alberto Alesina & Eliana La Ferrara, . "Preferences for Redistribution in the Land of Opportunities," Working Papers 178, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  13. Roland Bénabou, 2003. "Inequality, Technology, and the Social Contract," Working Papers 141, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Discussion Papers in Economics..
  14. Robert J. Barro & Rachel McCleary, 2003. "Religion and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 9682, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Fong, Christina, 2001. "Social preferences, self-interest, and the demand for redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 225-246, November.
  16. Kenneth A. Couch & Thomas A. Dunn, 1995. "Intergenerational Correlations in Labor Market Status: A Comparison of the United States and Germany," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 111, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  17. Akerlof, George A & Dickens, William T, 1982. "The Economic Consequences of Cognitive Dissonance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(3), pages 307-19, June.
  18. Caplin, Andrew & Leahy, John, 1997. "Psychological Expected Utility Theory and Anticipatory Feelings," Working Papers 97-37, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  19. Luigi Guiso & Paola Sapienza & Luigi Zingales, 2002. "People's Opium? Religion and Economic Attitudes," NBER Working Papers 9237, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Checchi, Daniele & Ichino, Andrea & Rustichini, Aldo, 1999. "More equal but less mobile?: Education financing and intergenerational mobility in Italy and in the US," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(3), pages 351-393, December.
  21. Hassler, John & Mora, José V Rodríguez & Storesletten, Kjetil & Zilibotti, Fabrizio, 2001. "The Survival of the Welfare State," CEPR Discussion Papers 2905, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  22. Jost, John T. & Blount, Sally & Pfeffer, Jeffrey & Hunyady, Gyorgy, 2003. "Fair Market Ideology: Its Cognitive-Motivational Underpinnings," Research Papers 1816, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  23. Hirschman, Albert O., 1973. "The changing tolerance for income inequality in the course of economic development," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 1(12), pages 29-36, December.
  24. Carrillo, Juan D & Mariotti, Thomas, 2000. "Strategic Ignorance as a Self-Disciplining Device," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(3), pages 529-44, July.
  25. Arnaud LEFRANC, Alain TRANNOY - & Alain TRANNOY, 2005. "Intergenerational earnings mobility in France: Is France more mobile than the U.S.?," Annales d'Economie et de Statistique, ENSAE, issue 78, pages 57-77.
  26. Alain Desdoigts & Fabien Moizeau, 2005. "Community Membership Aspirations: The Link Between Inequality And Redistribution Revisited," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 46(3), pages 973-1007, 08.
  27. Roemer, J.E., 1995. "Why the Poor Do not Expropriate the Rich in Democracies: A New Argument," Department of Economics 95-04, California Davis - Department of Economics.
  28. Kopczuk Wojciech & Slemrod Joel, 2005. "Denial of Death and Economic Behavior," The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 5(1), pages 1-26, August.
  29. Bjorklund, Anders & Jantti, Markus, 1997. "Intergenerational Income Mobility in Sweden Compared to the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(5), pages 1009-18, December.
  30. Kangas, Olli, 2003. "The grasshopper and the ants: popular opinions of just distribution in Australia and Finland," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 721-743.
  31. Marcus Noland, 2003. "Religion, Culture, and Economic Performance," Working Paper Series WP03-8, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
  32. Roland Benabou, 2000. "Unequal Societies: Income Distribution and the Social Contract," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 96-129, March.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ecl:prirpe:08-15-2005a. 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: ()

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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

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

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.