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Preferences for inequality : East vs. West

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  • Suhrcke, Marc

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Suhrcke, Marc, 2001. "Preferences for inequality : East vs. West," HWWA Discussion Papers 150, Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWA).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:hwwadp:26369
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    1. Andrew Newell & Barry Reilly, 1999. "Rates of Return to Educational Qualifications in the Transitional Economies," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 7(1), pages 67-84.
    2. Gerry Redmond & Sylke Schnepf & Marc Suhrcke, 2002. "Attitudes to Inequality after Ten Years of Transition," Papers inwopa02/21, Innocenti Working Papers.
    3. 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.
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    6. Alesina, Alberto & La Ferrara, Eliana, 2005. "Preferences for redistribution in the land of opportunities," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(5-6), pages 897-931, June.
    7. Thomas Piketty, 1995. "Social Mobility and Redistributive Politics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(3), pages 551-584.
    8. 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 914-927, October.
    9. UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre. MONEE project, 2001. "A Decade of Transition," Papers remore01/15, Regional Monitoring Report.
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    12. 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.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Hennighausen, Tanja, 2015. "Exposure to television and individual beliefs: Evidence from a natural experiment," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(4), pages 956-980.
    2. repec:ilo:ilowps:376167 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Kerr, William R., 2014. "Income inequality and social preferences for redistribution and compensation differentials," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 62-78.
    4. Pfarr, Christian & Schmid, Andreas & Ulrich, Volker, 2013. "You can't always get what you want - East and West Germans' attitudes and preferences regarding the welfare state," MPRA Paper 47240, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Gruen, Carola & Klasen, Stephan, 2012. "Has transition improved well-being?," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 11-30.
    6. Lübker, Malte., 2005. "Globalization and perceptions of social inequality," ILO Working Papers 993761673402676, International Labour Organization.
    7. 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.
    8. Tiiu Paas, 2003. "Social Consequences of Transition and European Integration Processes in the Baltic States," ERSA conference papers ersa03p382, European Regional Science Association.
    9. Dimitris Kallioras & George Petrakos & Georgios Fotopoulos, 2005. "Economic integration, regional structural change and cohesion in the EU new member-states," ERSA conference papers ersa05p383, European Regional Science Association.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Inequality; transition countries; attitudes;

    JEL classification:

    • P5 - Economic Systems - - Comparative Economic Systems
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D30 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - General

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