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In Front of and Behind the Veil of Ignorance: An Analysis of Motivations for Redistribution

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  • Bjerk, David J.

    () (Claremont McKenna College)

Abstract

This paper uses a laboratory experiment to explore individuals' motivations for redistribution. The laboratory results show that as income uncertainty diminishes, participants become more extreme in their preferences for redistribution. The findings suggest that for most people, the motivation for redistribution is financial self-interest – namely as insurance against future bad luck – rather than furthering equity. However, a non-negligible group of participants propose redistribution levels inconsistent with financial self-interest, where this group is primarily made up of those with the least to lose financially from making such a proposal, and the size of this group increases when participants can communicate prior to proposing. Survey data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth and General Social Survey show that these experimental findings may help shed light on the way preferences for redistribution evolve with age in the real world.

Suggested Citation

  • Bjerk, David J., 2016. "In Front of and Behind the Veil of Ignorance: An Analysis of Motivations for Redistribution," IZA Discussion Papers 10259, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10259
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Sophie Cetre & Max Lobeck & Claudia Senik & Thierry Verdier, 2018. "In search of unanimously preferred income distributions. Evidence from a choice experiment," PSE Working Papers halshs-01863359, HAL.
    2. Romain Espinosa & Bruno Deffains & Christian Thöni, 2020. "Debiasing preferences over redistribution: an experiment," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 55(4), pages 823-843, December.
    3. Cetre, Sophie & Lobeck, Max & Senik, Claudia & Verdier, Thierry, 2019. "Preferences over income distribution: Evidence from a choice experiment," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 74(C).
    4. Romain Espinosa & Bruno Deffains & Christian Thöni, 0. "Debiasing preferences over redistribution: an experiment," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 0, pages 1-21.
    5. Wolf, Stephan & Dron, Cameron, 2020. "The effect of an experimental veil of ignorance on intergenerational resource sharing: empirical evidence from a sequential multi-person dictator game," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 175(C).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    redistribution; laboratory experiment; veil of ignorance; progressive taxation;

    JEL classification:

    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • D3 - Microeconomics - - Distribution

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