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Preferences for Redistribution

  • Alberto F. Alesina
  • Paola Giuliano

This paper discusses what determines the preferences of individuals for redistribution. We review the theoretical literature and provide a framework to incorporate various effects previously studied separately in the literature. We then examine empirical evidence for the US, using the General Social Survey, and for a large set of countries, using the World Values Survey. The paper reviews previously found results and provides several new ones. We emphasize, in particular, the role of historical experiences, cultural factors and personal history as determinants of preferences for equality or tolerance for inequality.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14825.

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Date of creation: Mar 2009
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Alesina, Alberto, and Paola Giuliano. 2011. Preferences for Redistribution. In Handbook of Social Economics, A Bisin and Benhabib, J, 93-132. North Holland.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14825
Note: LE POL
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  17. Fehr, Ernst & Naef, Michael & Schmidt, Klaus M., 2006. "Inequality aversion, efficiency, and maximin preferences in simple distribution experiments: Comment," Munich Reprints in Economics 20639, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  18. Bénabou, Roland & Tirole, Jean, 2005. "Belief in a Just World and Redistributive Politics," CEPR Discussion Papers 4952, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  19. Fajnzylber, Pablo & Lederman, Daniel & Loayza, Norman, 2002. "Inequality and Violent Crime," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 45(1), pages 1-40, April.
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  24. Roland Benabou & Efe A. Ok, 1998. "Social Mobility and the Demand for Redistribution: The POUM Hypothesis," NBER Working Papers 6795, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. Hans Peter Gruner & Giacomo Corneo, 2000. "Social Limits to Redistribution," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1491-1507, December.
  26. Montgomery, Robert & Stuart, Charles, 1999. "Sex and Fiscal Desire," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt6nf9t426, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
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  29. Thomas Piketty, 1994. "Social Mobility and Redistributive Politics," Working papers 94-15, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  30. Carroll, Christopher D & Rhee, Byung-Kun & Rhee, Changyong, 1994. "Are There Cultural Effects on Saving? Some Cross-Sectional Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(3), pages 685-99, August.
  31. 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.
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  33. La Ferrara, Eliana & Alesina, Alberto, 2005. "Preferences for Redistribution in the Land of Opportunities," Scholarly Articles 4552533, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  34. Metcalfe, Renuka & Sloane, Peter J., 2007. "Human Capital Spillovers and Economic Performance in the Workplace in 2004: Some British Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 2774, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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