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Group Loyalty and the Taste for Redistribution

  • Erzo F.P. Luttmer

Interpersonal preferences - preferences that depend on the characteristics of others - are typically hard to infer from observable individual behavior. As an alternative approach, this paper uses survey data to investigate interpersonal preferences. The General Social Survey contains self-reported preferences for welfare spending, which I validate with voting behavior on cuts in welfare benefits. Using this preference measure, I show that preferences for income redistribution are not only determined by financial self-interest but also by interpersonal preferences. These interpersonal preferences are characterized by a negative exposure effect - individuals decrease their support for welfare if there are more welfare recipients in their area - and racial group loyalty - individuals increase their support for welfare spending if a larger fraction of welfare recipients in their area belongs to their racial group. My results hold when areas are defined as states, metropolitan areas or census tracts and are robust.

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Paper provided by Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago in its series Working Papers with number 9902.

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Date of creation: Jan 1999
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Handle: RePEc:har:wpaper:9902
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  1. James M. Poterba, 1997. "Demographic structure and the political economy of public education," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(1), pages 48-66.
  2. Becker, Gary S, 1974. "A Theory of Social Interactions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1063-93, Nov.-Dec..
  3. Alberto Alesina & Reza Baqir & William Easterly, 1999. "Public Goods And Ethnic Divisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(4), pages 1243-1284, November.
  4. Ribar, D.C. & Wilhelm, M.O., 1992. "Welfare Generosity: The Importance of Administrative Efficiency, Community Values and Genuine Benevolence," Papers 11-92-2, Pennsylvania State - Department of Economics.
  5. Steven N. Durlauf, 1992. "A Theory of Persistent Income Inequality," NBER Working Papers 4056, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Joseph G. Altonji & Fumio Hayashi & Laurence Kotlikoff, . "Parental Altruism and Inter Vivos Transfers: Theory and Evidence," IPR working papers 95-22, Institute for Policy Resarch at Northwestern University.
  7. Bergstrom, Theodore C & Goodman, Robert P, 1973. "Private Demands for Public Goods," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(3), pages 280-96, June.
  8. Coate, Stephen, 1995. "Altruism, the Samaritan's Dilemma, and Government Transfer Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 46-57, March.
  9. Case, Anne C. & Rosen, Harvey S. & Hines, James Jr., 1993. "Budget spillovers and fiscal policy interdependence : Evidence from the states," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 285-307, October.
  10. Benabou, Roland, 1996. "Heterogeneity, Stratification, and Growth: Macroeconomic Implications of Community Structure and School Finance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 584-609, June.
  11. Robert Moffitt & David Ribar & Mark Wilhelm, 1998. "The Decline of Welfare Benefits in the US: The Role of Wage Inequality," Economics Working Paper Archive 373, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
  12. David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser, 1995. "Are Ghettos Good or Bad?," NBER Working Papers 5163, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Borcherding, Thomas E & Deacon, Robert T, 1972. "The Demand for the Services of Non-Federal Governments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(5), pages 891-901, December.
  14. Samuel Bowles & Herbert Gintis, 2000. "Reciprocity, Self-Interest and the Welfare State," Nordic Journal of Political Economy, Nordic Journal of Political Economy, vol. 26, pages 33-53.
  15. Pauly, Mark V., 1973. "Income redistribution as a local public good," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 35-58, February.
  16. Thurow, Lester C, 1971. "The Income Distribution as a Pure Public Good," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 85(2), pages 327-36, May.
  17. Fernandez, Raquel & Rogerson, Richard, 1996. "Income Distribution, Communities, and the Quality of Public Education," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(1), pages 135-64, February.
  18. Martin Feldstein & Marian Vaillant, 1994. "Can State Taxes Redistribute Income?," NBER Working Papers 4785, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Susan Rose-Ackerman, 1996. "Altruism, Nonprofits, and Economic Theory," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(2), pages 701-728, June.
  20. Orr, Larry L, 1976. "Income Transfers as a Public Good: An Application to AFDC," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 66(3), pages 359-71, June.
  21. David M. Cutler & Douglas W. Elmendorf & Richard J. Zeckhauser, 1993. "Demographic Characteristics and the Public Bundle," NBER Working Papers 4283, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Hochman, Harold M & Rodgers, James D, 1969. "Pareto Optimal Redistribution," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(4), pages 542-57, Part I Se.
  23. repec:att:wimass:9309 is not listed on IDEAS
  24. Blank, Rebecca M., 1988. "The effect of welfare and wage levels on the location decisions of female-headed households," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 186-211, September.
  25. 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 914-27, October.
  26. Andreoni, James, 1995. "Cooperation in Public-Goods Experiments: Kindness or Confusion?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(4), pages 891-904, September.
  27. Cox, Donald, 1987. "Motives for Private Income Transfers," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(3), pages 508-46, June.
  28. Frank, Robert H, 1984. "Are Workers Paid Their Marginal Products?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(4), pages 549-71, September.
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