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The Distributional Preferences of Americans

Author

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  • Raymond Fisman
  • Pamela Jakiela
  • Shachar Kariv

Abstract

We measure the distributional preferences of a large, diverse sample of Americans by embedding modified dictator games that vary the relative price of redistribution in the American Life Panel. Subjects' choices are generally consistent with maximizing a (social) utility function. We decompose distributional preferences into two distinct components - fair-mindedness (tradeoffs between oneself and others) and equality-efficiency tradeoffs - by estimating constant elasticity of substitution utility functions at the individual level. Approximately equal numbers of Americans have equality-focused and efficiency-focused distributional preferences. After controlling for individual characteristics, our experimental measures of equality-efficiency tradeoffs predict the political decisions of our subjects.

Suggested Citation

  • Raymond Fisman & Pamela Jakiela & Shachar Kariv, 2014. "The Distributional Preferences of Americans," NBER Working Papers 20145, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20145
    Note: PE POL
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Syngjoo Choi & Shachar Kariv & Wieland M?ller & Dan Silverman, 2014. "Who Is (More) Rational?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(6), pages 1518-1550, June.
    2. Varian, Hal R, 1982. "The Nonparametric Approach to Demand Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 945-973, July.
    3. Charles Bellemare & Sabine Kröger & Arthur van Soest, 2008. "Measuring Inequity Aversion in a Heterogeneous Population Using Experimental Decisions and Subjective Probabilities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 76(4), pages 815-839, July.
    4. Ilyana Kuziemko & Michael I. Norton & Emmanuel Saez & Stefanie Stantcheva, 2015. "How Elastic Are Preferences for Redistribution? Evidence from Randomized Survey Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(4), pages 1478-1508, April.
    5. David Ahn & Syngjoo Choi & Douglas Gale & Shachar Kariv, 2014. "Estimating ambiguity aversion in a portfolio choice experiment," Quantitative Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 5, pages 195-223, July.
    6. Syngjoo Choi & Raymond Fisman & Douglas Gale & Shachar Kariv, 2007. "Consistency and Heterogeneity of Individual Behavior under Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(5), pages 1921-1938, December.
    7. Rachel Croson & Uri Gneezy, 2009. "Gender Differences in Preferences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 448-474, June.
    8. James Andreoni & John Miller, 2002. "Giving According to GARP: An Experimental Test of the Consistency of Preferences for Altruism," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(2), pages 737-753, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kesternich, Iris & Schumacher, Heiner & Winter, Joachim, 2015. "Professional norms and physician behavior: Homo oeconomicus or homo hippocraticus?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 1-11.
    2. Pittau, Maria Grazia & Farcomeni, Alessio & Zelli, Roberto, 2016. "Has the attitude of US citizens towards redistribution changed over time?," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 52(PB), pages 714-724.
    3. Boschini, Anne & Dreber, Anna & von Essen, Emma & Muren, Astri & Ranehill, Eva, 2018. "Gender and altruism in a random sample," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 72-77.
    4. Adrian Bruhin & Ernst Fehr & Daniel Schunk, 2016. "The Many Faces of Human Sociality: Uncovering the Distribution and Stability of Social Preferences," Working Papers 1603, Gutenberg School of Management and Economics, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, revised 01 Feb 2016.
    5. Pablo Hernandez & Dylan Minor, 2015. "Political Identity and Trust," Harvard Business School Working Papers 16-012, Harvard Business School.
    6. Eva Ranehill & Roberto A. Weber, 2017. "Do Gender Preference Gaps Impact Policy Outcomes?," CESifo Working Paper Series 6776, CESifo Group Munich.
    7. Thomas Buser & Louis Putterman & Joël van der Weele, 2016. "Gender and Redistribution: Experimental Evidence," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 16-063/I, Tinbergen Institute.
    8. repec:eee:pubeco:v:155:y:2017:i:c:p:1-10 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers

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