IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Who wants to redistribute? Russia's tunnel effect in the 1990's


  • Ravallion, Martin
  • Lokshin, Michael


It seems natural to expect the rich to oppose policies to redistribute income from the rich to the poor, and the poor to favor such policies. But this may be too simple a model, say the Authors. Expectations of future welfare may come into play. Well-off people on a downward trajectory may well favor such policies and poor people on a rising trajectory may not. This resistance of upwardly mobile poor people to lasting redistribution is analogous to Hirshman's"tunnel effect", as applied to traffic stuck on a congested two-lane road in a tunnel: People's spirits lift when traffic starts moving again; but when another lane starts moving and theirs doesn't, they might grow furious andwant to correct things by crossing the double line separating the two lanes. Using Russia in the 1990's as the setting, the authors analyze why some people favor governmental redistribution and others do not and whether there is a"tunnel effect". They find that: 1) Some 72 percent of the 7,000 adults surveyed in October 1996 favor government action to reduce incomes of the rich. But the other 28 percent were not only the currently"rich". 2) About 85 percent of those in the poorest consumption decile favor redistribution. But among those who expect their welfare to decline, support for redistribution is high, even among the currently"rich". There is little support for redistribution among the well-off who expect to become even better off. Resistance is greatest among those on a rising consumption path who expect it to continue. 3) Women tend to favor redistribution more than men. 4) Those who favor redistribution include people who voted communists and people who are vulnerable: the old, women, poorly educated adults, people who live in rural areas, people who expect to lose their jobs, and people who do not think the government cares about them.

Suggested Citation

  • Ravallion, Martin & Lokshin, Michael, 1999. "Who wants to redistribute? Russia's tunnel effect in the 1990's," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2150, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:2150

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Thomas Piketty, 1995. "Social Mobility and Redistributive Politics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(3), pages 551-584.
    2. Eckel, Catherine C & Grossman, Philip J, 1998. "Are Women Less Selfish Than Men? Evidence from Dictator Experiments," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(448), pages 726-735, May.
    3. Ravallion, Martin & Dearden, Lorraine, 1988. "Social Security in a "Moral Economy": An Empirical Analysis for Java," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 70(1), pages 36-44, February.
    4. Rose, Richard & McAllister, Ian, 1996. "Is Money the Measure of Welfare in Russia?," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 42(1), pages 75-90, March.
    5. Ravallion, Martin, 1991. "Reaching the Rural Poor through Public Employment: Arguments, Evidence, and Lessons from South Asia," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 6(2), pages 153-175, July.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


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

    Cited by:

    1. repec:ilo:ilowps:376167 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Molnár, György & Kapitány, Zsuzsa, 2007. "Bizonytalanság és a jövedelmek újraelosztása iránti igény Magyarországon
      [Uncertainty and the demand for redistribution in Hungary]
      ," Közgazdasági Szemle (Economic Review - monthly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Közgazdasági Szemle Alapítvány (Economic Review Foundation), vol. 0(3), pages 201-232.
    3. Molnár, György & Kapitány, Zsuzsa, 2006. "Mobilitás, bizonytalanság és szubjektív jóllét Magyarországon
      [Mobility, uncertainty and subjective welfare in Hungary]
      ," Közgazdasági Szemle (Economic Review - monthly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Közgazdasági Szemle Alapítvány (Economic Review Foundation), vol. 0(10), pages 845-872.
    4. Lübker, Malte., 2005. "Globalization and perceptions of social inequality," ILO Working Papers 993761673402676, International Labour Organization.
    5. Pfarr, Christian, 2012. "Meltzer-Richard and social mobility hypothesis: revisiting the income-redistribution nexus using German choice data," MPRA Paper 43325, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Vodopivec, Milan & Raju, Dhushyanth, 2002. "Income support systems for the unemployed : issues and options," Social Protection and Labor Policy and Technical Notes 25529, The World Bank.

    More about this item


    Public Health Promotion; Economic Theory&Research; Health Economics&Finance; Environmental Economics&Policies; Labor Policies; Health Economics&Finance; Poverty Diagnostics; Inequality; Environmental Economics&Policies; Economic Theory&Research;

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    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:wbk:wbrwps:2150. 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: (Roula I. Yazigi). General contact details of provider: .

    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.