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Information, Social Mobility and the Demand for Redistribution


  • Francesco Feri



This paper studies how heterogeneity in income dynamics affects the POUM hypothesis (the idea that poor people do not support high level of redistribution because they hope to be rich in the future). We consider a setting where individuals evaluate their expected future income using both their current income and observable characteristics such as education, race or gender. We find that the POUM effect could increase or decrease the support for redistribution depending on the parameters of the model. Moreover we find that the POUM effect is independent of a particular shape (the concavity) of the resulting aggregate income transition function. Finally, using data from Italy, we test the model and perform a first empirical estimation of the POUM effect in Italy.

Suggested Citation

  • Francesco Feri, 2008. "Information, Social Mobility and the Demand for Redistribution," Working Papers 2008-02, Faculty of Economics and Statistics, University of Innsbruck.
  • Handle: RePEc:inn:wpaper:2008-02

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Thomas Piketty, 1995. "Social Mobility and Redistributive Politics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(3), pages 551-584.
    2. 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.
    3. Albert O. Hirschman & Michael Rothschild, 1973. "The Changing Tolerance for Income Inequality in the Course of Economic DevelopmentWith A Mathematical Appendix," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 87(4), pages 544-566.
    4. Martin Browning & Mette Ejrnæs & Javier Alvarez, 2010. "Modelling Income Processes with Lots of Heterogeneity," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(4), pages 1353-1381.
    5. R. Bénabou & E. Ok, 2000. "Mobility as Progressivity: Ranking Income Processes According to Equality of Opportunity," Princeton Economic Theory Papers 00f1, Economics Department, Princeton University.
    6. Hungerford, Thomas L, 1993. "U.S. Income Mobility in the Seventies and Eighties," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 39(4), pages 403-417, December.
    7. Alberto Alesina & Dani Rodrik, 1994. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(2), pages 465-490.
    8. Stewart, Mark B & Swaffield, Joanna K, 1999. "Low Pay Dynamics and Transition Probabilities," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 66(261), pages 23-42, February.
    9. 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.
    10. 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.
    11. Dardanoni Valentino, 1993. "Measuring Social Mobility," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 372-394, December.
    12. Manuel Arellano & Stephen Bond, 1991. "Some Tests of Specification for Panel Data: Monte Carlo Evidence and an Application to Employment Equations," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(2), pages 277-297.
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    More about this item


    Social Mobility; Income Distribution; Political Economy; Inequality; Taxation;

    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
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism
    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General

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