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Are People Inequality Averse, and Do They Prefer Redistribution by the State? A Revised Version

Author

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  • Schwarze, Johannes

    (University of Bamberg)

  • Härpfer, Marco

    () (University of Oldenburg)

Abstract

We link life-satisfaction data to inequality of the pre- and post-government income distribution at the regional level, to estimate the degree of inequality aversion. Three different inequality measures are used. In addition, we investigate whether a reduction in inequality by the state increases individual well-being. We find only weak evidence that Germans are inequality averse. Inequality reduction by the state does not increase wellbeing. On the contrary, inequality reduction imposes an excess burden on middle-income earners. The paper uses data from the German Socio-economic Panel Study (GSOEP) from 1985 to 1998.

Suggested Citation

  • Schwarze, Johannes & Härpfer, Marco, 2003. "Are People Inequality Averse, and Do They Prefer Redistribution by the State? A Revised Version," IZA Discussion Papers 974, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp974
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. Corneo, Giacomo & Gruner, Hans Peter, 2002. "Individual preferences for political redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(1), pages 83-107, January.
    3. Alesina, Alberto & Di Tella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert, 2004. "Inequality and happiness: are Europeans and Americans different?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 2009-2042, August.
    4. Alberto Alesina & Edward Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote, 2001. "Why Doesn't the US Have a European-Style Welfare System?," NBER Working Papers 8524, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Lester C. Thurow, 1971. "The Income Distribution as a Pure Public Good," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 85(2), pages 327-336.
    6. Morawetz, David, 1977. "Income Distribution and Self-Rated Happiness: Some Empirical Evidence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 87(347), pages 511-522, September.
    7. Moulton, Brent R, 1990. "An Illustration of a Pitfall in Estimating the Effects of Aggregate Variables on Micro Unit," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 72(2), pages 334-338, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. D'Ambrosio, Conchita & Frick, Joachim R., 2004. "Subjective Well-Being and Relative Deprivation: An Empirical Link," IZA Discussion Papers 1351, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Conchita D'Ambrosio & Joachim R. Frick, 2012. "Individual Wellbeing in a Dynamic Perspective," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 79(314), pages 284-302, April.
    3. Dominique Demougin & Claude Fluet & Carsten Helm, 2006. "Output and wages with inequality averse agents," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 39(2), pages 399-413, May.
    4. Gaeta, Giuseppe Lucio, 2011. "In the mood for redistribution. An empirical analysis of individual preferences for redistribution in Italy," MPRA Paper 32049, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Dolan, Paul & Peasgood, Tessa & White, Mathew, 2008. "Do we really know what makes us happy A review of the economic literature on the factors associated with subjective well-being," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 94-122, February.
    6. Jukka Pirttilä & Roope Uusitalo, 2010. "A 'Leaky Bucket' in the Real World: Estimating Inequality Aversion using Survey Data," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 77(305), pages 60-76, January.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    life satisfaction; redistribution; inequality aversion; panel data;

    JEL classification:

    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being

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