IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/17701.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Income Inequality and Social Preferences for Redistribution and Compensation Differentials

Author

Listed:
  • William R. Kerr

Abstract

In cross-sectional studies, countries with greater income inequality typically exhibit less support for government-led redistribution and greater acceptance of wage inequality (e.g., United States versus Western Europe). If individual nations evolve along this pattern, a vicious cycle could form with reduced social concern amplifying primal increases in inequality due to forces like skill-biased technical change. Exploring movements around these long-term levels, however, this study finds mixed evidence regarding the vicious cycle hypothesis. On one hand, larger compensation differentials are accepted as inequality grows. This growth in differentials is of a smaller magnitude than the actual increase in inequality, but it is nonetheless positive and substantial in size. Weighing against this, growth in inequality is met with greater support for government-led redistribution to the poor. These patterns suggest that short-run inequality shocks can be reinforced in the labor market but do not result in weaker political preferences for redistribution.

Suggested Citation

  • William R. Kerr, 2011. "Income Inequality and Social Preferences for Redistribution and Compensation Differentials," NBER Working Papers 17701, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17701
    Note: EFG LS PE POL PR
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w17701.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Andrea Brandolini, 1999. "The Distribution of Personal Income in Post-War Italy: Source Description, Data Quality, and the Time Pattern of Income Inequality," Giornale degli Economisti, GDE (Giornale degli Economisti e Annali di Economia), Bocconi University, vol. 58(2), pages 183-239, September.
    2. Fatih Guvenen & Burhanettin Kuruscu & Serdar Ozkan, 2014. "Taxation of Human Capital and Wage Inequality: A Cross-Country Analysis," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 81(2), pages 818-850.
    3. Roland Bénabou, 2003. "Human Capital, Technical Change, and the Welfare State," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(2-3), pages 522-532, 04/05.
    4. Thomas Piketty, 1995. "Social Mobility and Redistributive Politics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(3), pages 551-584.
    5. Anthony B. Atkinson & Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2011. "Top Incomes in the Long Run of History," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 49(1), pages 3-71, March.
    6. Alberto Alesina & Eliana La Ferrara, 2000. "Participation in Heterogeneous Communities," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 847-904.
    7. 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.
    8. Corneo, Giacomo & Gruner, Hans Peter, 2002. "Individual preferences for political redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(1), pages 83-107, January.
    9. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2006. "Belief in a Just World and Redistributive Politics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(2), pages 699-746.
    10. John Hassler & José V. Rodríguez Mora & Kjetil Storesletten & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2003. "The Survival of the Welfare State," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 87-112, March.
    11. Alberto Alesina & George-Marios Angeletos, 2005. "Fairness and Redistribution," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 960-980, September.
    12. Deininger, Klaus & Squire, Lyn, 1996. "A New Data Set Measuring Income Inequality," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 10(3), pages 565-591, September.
    13. 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.
    14. Hornstein, Andreas & Krusell, Per & Violante, Giovanni L., 2005. "The Effects of Technical Change on Labor Market Inequalities," Handbook of Economic Growth,in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 20, pages 1275-1370 Elsevier.
    15. Pope, Clayne, 2009. "Measuring the distribution of material well-being: U.S. trends," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 66-78, January.
    16. 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.
    17. Leigh, Andrew, 2008. "Do Redistributive State Taxes Reduce Inequality?," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 61(1), pages 81-104, March.
    18. Acemoglu, Daron & Aghion, Philippe & Violante, Giovanni L., 2001. "Deunionization, technical change and inequality," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 229-264, December.
    19. Robert J. Gordon & Ian Dew-Becker, 2008. "Controversies about the Rise of American Inequality: A Survey," NBER Working Papers 13982, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    20. Joachim R. Frick & Markus M. Grabka, 2002. "The Personal Distribution of Income and Imputed Rent: A Cross-National Comparison for the UK, West Germany and the USA," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 271, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    21. Suhrcke, Marc, 2001. "Preferences for inequality : East vs. West," HWWA Discussion Papers 150, Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWA).
    22. Gottschalk, Peter & Smeeding, Timothy M., 2000. "Empirical evidence on income inequality in industrialized countries," Handbook of Income Distribution,in: A.B. Atkinson & F. Bourguignon (ed.), Handbook of Income Distribution, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 5, pages 261-307 Elsevier.
    23. Erzo F. P. Luttmer, 2001. "Group Loyalty and the Taste for Redistribution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(3), pages 500-528, June.
    24. Alesina, Alberto & Angeletos, George-Marios, 2005. "Corruption, inequality, and fairness," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(7), pages 1227-1244, October.
    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. Anthony B. Atkinson, 2000. "The Changing Distribution of Income: Evidence and Explanations," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 1(1), pages 3-18, February.
    27. Alberto Alesina & Edward Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote, 2001. "Why Doesn't the United States Have a European-Style Welfare State?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 32(2), pages 187-278.
    28. Lind, Jo Thori, 2007. "Fractionalization and the size of government," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(1-2), pages 51-76, February.
    29. Daniel H. Cooper & Byron F. Lutz & Michael G. Palumbo, 2011. "Quantifying the role of federal and state taxes in mitigating income inequality," Public Policy Discussion Paper 11-7, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
    30. repec:pri:cepsud:113krusell is not listed on IDEAS
    31. Sean Corcoran & William N. Evans, 2010. "Income Inequality, the Median Voter, and the Support for Public Education," NBER Working Papers 16097, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    32. Corbae, Dean & D'Erasmo, Pablo & Kuruscu, Burhanettin, 2009. "Politico-economic consequences of rising wage inequality," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 43-61, January.
    33. Tara Watson, 2009. "Inequality And The Measurement Of Residential Segregation By Income In American Neighborhoods," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 55(3), pages 820-844, September.
    34. 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 914-927, October.
    35. Fong, Christina, 2001. "Social preferences, self-interest, and the demand for redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 225-246, November.
    36. Andrea Brandolini & Anthony B. Atkinson, 2001. "Promise and Pitfalls in the Use of "Secondary" Data-Sets: Income Inequality in OECD Countries As a Case Study," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(3), pages 771-799, September.
    37. Rupnik, Carlo & Thompson-James, Margaret & Bollman, Ray D., 2001. "Measuring Economic Well-Being of Rural Canadians Using Income Indicators," Agriculture and Rural Working Paper Series 28053, Statistics Canada.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Javier Olivera, 2015. "Preferences for redistribution in Europe," IZA Journal of European Labor Studies, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 4(1), pages 1-18, December.
    2. repec:bla:revinw:v:63:y:2017:i:3:p:464-491 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Ant Bozkaya & William R. Kerr, 2014. "Labor Regulations and European Venture Capital," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 23(4), pages 776-810, December.
    4. ANDREOLI Francesco & PELUSO Eugenio, 2017. "So close yet so unequal: Spatial inequality in American cities," LISER Working Paper Series 2017-11, LISER.
    5. Christopher Roth & Johannes Wohlfart, 2016. "Experienced Inequality and Preferences for Redistribution," CESifo Working Paper Series 6251, CESifo Group Munich.
    6. David Bjerk, 2016. "In front of and behind the veil of ignorance: an analysis of motivations for redistribution," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 47(4), pages 791-824, December.
    7. Gilat Levy & Ronny Razin, 2015. "Preferences over Equality in the Presence of Costly Income Sorting," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(2), pages 308-337, May.
    8. Paolo Brunori, 2017. "The Perception of Inequality of Opportunity in Europe," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 63(3), pages 464-491, September.
    9. Alberto Montagnoli & Mirko Moro & Robert Wright, 2016. "Financial literacy and attitudes to redistribution," Working Papers 1605, University of Strathclyde Business School, Department of Economics.
    10. Javier Olivera, 2014. "Preferences for redistribution after the economic crisis," Economics and Business Letters, Oviedo University Press, vol. 3(3), pages 137-145.
    11. repec:voj:journl:v:64:y:2017:i:2:p:169-188 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Declan French & Frank Kee & Mark O'Doherty, 2016. "Inequality and Regional Variations in Perceptions of Work Disability: Results from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing," CHaRMS Working Papers 16-04, Centre for HeAlth Research at the Management School (CHaRMS).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D33 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Factor Income Distribution
    • D61 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Allocative Efficiency; Cost-Benefit Analysis
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • H53 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Welfare Programs
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • R11 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Regional Economic Activity: Growth, Development, Environmental Issues, and Changes

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17701. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: () or (Joanne Lustig). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.