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Feeling guilty and redistributive politics

  • Gilles le Garrec

In mainstream economics individuals are supposed driven only by their self interest. By contrast, in this article, in the line of a "new synthesis" in moral psychology we assert that the voting behavior over redistribution is best characterized by first an automatic cognitive process which generates quicly intuitions on the fair level of redistribution, and second by a rational self oriented reasoning which controls the feeling of guilt associated with the fair intuitions. As a result of this dual-process decision-making, we show that the U-shape between inequality and redistribution supported by the data is a general feature of the model. In addition, assuming that the feeling of guilt is context dependent and is reduced if the previous generation failed in implementing the intuitively fair institution, the model exhibits a multiplic- ity of steady states which can explain the huge difference of redistribution observed between Europe and the United States.

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Paper provided by Observatoire Francais des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE) in its series Documents de Travail de l'OFCE with number 2009-22.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:fce:doctra:0922
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