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Preferences for inequality : East vs. West

  • Suhrcke, Marc
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    Do preferences for income inequality differ systematically between the post-socialist countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the Western established market economies? This paper analyses 1999 data from a large international survey to address this question. In particular, we examine whether attitudes to inequality differ between East and West even after the ?conventional? determinants of attitudes are controlled for. Results suggest that this is indeed the case. A decade after the breakdown of communism, people in transition countries are indeed significantly more ?egalitarian? than those living in the West, in the sense that they are less willing to tolerate existing income inequalities, even after the actual level of income inequality and other determinants of attitudes are taken into account. These results do not seem to be driven by a recent change in attitudes owing to a rapid rise in inequality during transition, but rather appear to constitute an attitudinal legacy carried over from socialism. This is very likely to have important implications for the political support of reform policy, in particular for the political feasibility of future welfare state reforms in these countries.

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    File URL: http://econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/19401/1/150.pdf
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    Paper provided by Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWA) in its series HWWA Discussion Papers with number 150.

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    Date of creation: 2001
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    Handle: RePEc:zbw:hwwadp:26369
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    Web page: http://www.econstor.eu/handle/10419/20
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    1. John Flemming & John Micklewright, 1999. "Income Distribution, Economic Systems and Transition," Innocenti Occasional Papers, Economic Policy Series iopeps99/69, UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre.
    2. Newell, Andrew & Reilly, Barry, 1997. "Rates of Return to Educational Qualifications in the Transitional Economies," Discussion Papers in Economics 03/97, Department of Economics, University of Sussex.
    3. Romer, Thomas, 1975. "Individual welfare, majority voting, and the properties of a linear income tax," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 163-185, February.
    4. Piketty, Thomas, 1995. "Social Mobility and Redistributive Politics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(3), pages 551-84, August.
    5. Meltzer, Allan H & Richard, Scott F, 1981. "A Rational Theory of the Size of Government," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 914-27, October.
    6. Alesina, Alberto & Di Tella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert, 2004. "Inequality and happiness: are Europeans and Americans different?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 2009-2042, August.
    7. Gerry Redmond & Sylke Schnepf & Marc Suhrcke, 2002. "Attitudes to Inequality after Ten Years of Transition," Innocenti Working Papers inwopa02/21, UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre.
    8. Alesina, Alberto F & La Ferrara, Eliana, 2002. "Preferences for Redistribution in the Land of Opportunities," CEPR Discussion Papers 3155, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    9. Ravallion, Martin & Lokshin, Michael, 2000. "Who wants to redistribute?: The tunnel effect in 1990s Russia," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(1), pages 87-104, April.
    10. Delhey, Jan, 1999. "Inequality and attitudes: postcommunism, western capitalism and beyond," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Social Structure and Social Reporting FS III 99-403, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
    11. Piketty, Thomas, 1999. "Attitudes toward income inequality in France: Do people really disagree?," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Couverture Orange) 9918, CEPREMAP.
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