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More Income Equality or Not? An Empirical Analysis of Individuals' Preferences for Redistribution

Author

Listed:
  • María A. García-Valiñas
  • Roberto Fernández Llera
  • Benno Torgler

    () (QUT)

Abstract

Do people prefer a society with an extensive social welfare system with high taxes, or low taxes but lax redistributive policies? Although economists have for a long time investigated the trade-off mechanism between equity and efficiency, surprisingly little information is available about citizens’ preferences over the distribution of income in a society. The aim of this paper is reduce this shortcoming, investigating in an empirical study working with World Values Survey, what shapes individuals' preferences for income equality in Spain. We present evidence that not only traditional economic variables are relevant to be considered, but also factors such as ideology, political interest, fairness perception about others or trust in institutions, are key determinants to understand preferences towards redistribution and equality. Furthermore, we also find that regional conditions affect the citizens’ preferences for income equality. Higher income inequality leads to stronger preferences for equality. On the other hand, there is the tendency that higher social expenditures reduce the preferences for income equality.

Suggested Citation

  • María A. García-Valiñas & Roberto Fernández Llera & Benno Torgler, 2008. "More Income Equality or Not? An Empirical Analysis of Individuals' Preferences for Redistribution," School of Economics and Finance Discussion Papers and Working Papers Series 226, School of Economics and Finance, Queensland University of Technology.
  • Handle: RePEc:qut:dpaper:226
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    File URL: http://external-apps.qut.edu.au/business/documents/discussionPapers/2008/Torgler226.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Alberto Alesina & Eliana La Ferrara, 2000. "Participation in Heterogeneous Communities," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 847-904.
    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. Louis Putterman & John E. Roemer & Joaquim Silvestre, 1998. "Does Egalitarianism Have a Future?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(2), pages 861-902, June.
    4. Alberto Alesina & Reza Baqir & William Easterly, 1999. "Public Goods and Ethnic Divisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(4), pages 1243-1284.
    5. David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser & Jacob L. Vigdor, 1999. "The Rise and Decline of the American Ghetto," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(3), pages 455-506, June.
    6. Alesina, Alberto & La Ferrara, Eliana, 2005. "Preferences for redistribution in the land of opportunities," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, pages 897-931.
    7. Alberto Alesina & Reza Baqir & Caroline Hoxby, 2004. "Political Jurisdictions in Heterogeneous Communities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(2), pages 348-396, April.
    8. Clark, Jeremy, 1998. "Fairness preferences and optimization skills: are they substitutes?: An experimental investigation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 541-557, March.
    9. Hans Peter Gruner & Giacomo Corneo, 2000. "Social Limits to Redistribution," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1491-1507, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Pfarr, Christian & Schmid, Andreas & Mørkbak, Morten Raun, 2015. "Latent characteristics and preferences for income redistribution," Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 113001, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    2. Pfarr Christian & Ulrich Volker, 2011. "Discrete-Choice-Experimente zur Ermittlung der Präferenzen für Umverteilung," Review of Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 62(3), pages 232-262, December.
    3. Pfarr, Christian & Schmid, Andreas & Mørkbak, Morten Raun, 2014. "Identifying latent interest-groups: An analysis of heterogeneous preferences for income-redistribution," MPRA Paper 58823, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    redistribution; inequality; welfare state; social capital; regional conditions;

    JEL classification:

    • 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
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being

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