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Voting for redistribution under desert-sensitive altruism



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    We endow individuals that differ in skill levels and tastes for working with altruistic preferences for redistribution in a voting model where a unidimensional redistributive parameter is chosen by majority voting in a direct democracy. When altruistic preferences are desert-sensitive, i.e. when there is a reluctance to redistribute from the hard-working to the lazy, we show that lower levels of redistribution emerge in political equilibrium. We provide empirical evidence, based on the ISSP 1992 dataset, that preferences for redistribution are not purely selfish and that desert- sensitive motivations play a significant role. We estimate that preferences for redistribution are significantly more desert-sensitive in the US than in Europe. We believe that differences in desert-sensitive preferences for redistribution help explain the different social contracts that prevail in both continents.

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    Paper provided by Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration in its series Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium with number 08/531.

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    Length: 31 pages
    Date of creation: Aug 2008
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:rug:rugwps:08/531
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