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Has the attitude of US citizens towards redistribution changed over time?


  • M. Grazia Pittau

    () (Sapienza Universita' di Roma)

  • Roberto Zelli

    () (Sapienza Universita' di Roma)


Demand for redistribution has been traditionally investigated within a static scenario, giving the perception of a stationary association between individual determinants and preferences. Using repeated cross-sectional survey data from the General Social Survey over the period 1978{2010, we model individual preferences in the U.S. within a chronological perspective. We t a a logistic non-nested multilevel model with three di erent levels of variation: individuals, time and cohort. Despite an overall stable trend in demand for redistribution, we nd that driving factors in shaping redistributive preferences have changed rapidly. Personal income is always a strong predictor, with the poor-rich gap increasing over time. Large changes have characterized the e ects of education, ethnic bonds and self-declared party identi cation. Over time, highly educated people have increased their probability to be in favor of redistribution while the less educated have become less prone. Ethnicity mattered more in the 1970s than in the 2000s. In the 2000s it is party aliation that shapes preferences rather than ethnic bonds: white and black democrats have similar feelings toward redistribution and so do white and black republicans.

Suggested Citation

  • M. Grazia Pittau & Roberto Zelli, 2013. "Has the attitude of US citizens towards redistribution changed over time?," DSS Empirical Economics and Econometrics Working Papers Series 2013/3, Centre for Empirical Economics and Econometrics, Department of Statistics, "Sapienza" University of Rome.
  • Handle: RePEc:sas:wpaper:20133

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Sophie Harnay & Elisabeth Tovar, 2017. "Obeying vs. resisting unfair laws. A structural analysis of the internalization of collective preferences on redistribution using classification trees and random forests," EconomiX Working Papers 2017-34, University of Paris Nanterre, EconomiX.

    More about this item


    Individual preferences; demand for redistribution; multilevel models; time-varying slopes models; weakly informative priors.;

    JEL classification:

    • C3 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D6 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies

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