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Intergenerational Mobility and Preferences for Redistribution

Author

Listed:
  • Alberto Alesina

    (Harvard University)

  • Stefanie Stantcheva

    () (Harvard University)

  • Edoardo Teso

    () (Harvard University)

Abstract

Using newly collected cross-country survey and experimental data, we investigate how beliefs about intergenerational mobility affect preferences for redistribution in five countries: France, Italy, Sweden, U.K., and U.S. Americans are more optimistic than Europeans about intergenerational mobility, and too optimistic relative to actual mobility. Our randomized treatment that shows respondents pessimistic information about mobility increases support for redistribution, mostly for equality of opportunity policies. A strong political polarization exists: Left-wing respondents are more pessimistic about intergenerational mobility, their preferences for redistribution are correlated with their mobility perceptions, and they respond to pessimistic information by increasing support for redistribution. None of these apply to right-wing respondents, possibly because of their negative views of government.

Suggested Citation

  • Alberto Alesina & Stefanie Stantcheva & Edoardo Teso, 2016. "Intergenerational Mobility and Preferences for Redistribution," Working Papers 2016-037, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
  • Handle: RePEc:hka:wpaper:2016-037
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    File URL: http://humcap.uchicago.edu/RePEc/hka/wpaper/Alesina_Stantcheva_Teso_2016_intergen-mobility.pdf
    File Function: First version, December 2016
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Björklund, Anders & Roine, Jesper & Waldenström, Daniel, 2012. "Intergenerational top income mobility in Sweden: Capitalist dynasties in the land of equal opportunity?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(5), pages 474-484.
    2. Raj Chetty & Nathaniel Hendren, 2018. "The Impacts of Neighborhoods on Intergenerational Mobility II: County-Level Estimates," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 133(3), pages 1163-1228.
    3. Niehues, Judith & Peichl, Andreas, 2011. "Lower and Upper Bounds of Unfair Inequality: Theory and Evidence for Germany and the US," IZA Discussion Papers 5834, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Mounir Karadja & Johanna Mollerstrom & David Seim, 2017. "Richer (and Holier) Than Thou? The Effect of Relative Income Improvements on Demand for Redistribution," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 99(2), pages 201-212, May.
    5. Andreas Peichl & Martin Ungerer, 2017. "Equality Of Opportunity: East Vs. West Germany," Bulletin of Economic Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 69(4), pages 421-427, October.
    6. Dunnzlaff, Lina & Neumann, Dirk & Niehues, Judith & Peichl, Andreas, 2010. "Equality of Opportunity and Redistribution in Europe," IZA Discussion Papers 5375, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    7. Benjamin J. Newman & Christopher D. Johnston & Patrick L. Lown, 2015. "False Consciousness or Class Awareness? Local Income Inequality, Personal Economic Position, and Belief in American Meritocracy," American Journal of Political Science, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 59(2), pages 326-340, February.
    8. Raj Chetty & Nathaniel Hendren & Lawrence F. Katz, 2016. "The Effects of Exposure to Better Neighborhoods on Children: New Evidence from the Moving to Opportunity Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(4), pages 855-902, April.
    9. repec:hrv:faseco:30367426 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Robert H. Frank, 2016. "Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 10663, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    redistribution; intergenerational mobility; taxation; online experiment; fairness;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods

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