IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/zbw/hwwirp/178.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Misperceptions of income distributions: Cross-country evidence from a randomized survey experiment

Author

Listed:
  • Bublitz, Elisabeth

Abstract

This paper investigates whether the individual misperception of income distributions helps explain why, opposite to Meltzer and Richard (1981), higher initial inequality levels do not correlate positively with redistribution. I conduct a representative survey experiment in Brazil, France, Germany, Russia, Spain, and the United States, providing a personalized information treatment on the income distribution to a randomly chosen subsample. Most respondents misperceive their own position in the income distribution. These biases differ by country and the true income position. Misperceptions of the median income relate negatively to misperceived income positions, showing evidence for biased reference points. Correcting misperceptions slightly shifts the demand towards less redistribution in Germany and Russia which appears to be driven by respondents with a negative position bias. Apart from Spain and the US, treatment reactions lead to a convergence of the demand for redistribution across countries. The treatment also alters trust levels in government and beliefs about the importance of luck but not equally across bias types.

Suggested Citation

  • Bublitz, Elisabeth, 2016. "Misperceptions of income distributions: Cross-country evidence from a randomized survey experiment," HWWI Research Papers 178, Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:hwwirp:178
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/148640/1/875128009.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Vivekinan Ashok & Ilyana Kuziemko & Ebonya Washington, 2015. "Support for Redistribution in an Age of Rising Inequality: New Stylized Facts and Some Tentative Explanations," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 50(1 (Spring), pages 367-433.
    2. 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.
    3. Mounir Karadja & Johanna Mollerstrom & David Seim, 2017. "Richer (and Holier) Than Thou? The Effect of Relative Income Improvements on Demand for Redistribution," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 99(2), pages 201-212, May.
    4. Philipp Lergetporer & Guido Schwerdt & Katharina Werner & Ludger Woessmann, 2016. "Information and Preferences for Public Spending: Evidence from Representative Survey Experiments," Working Paper Series of the Department of Economics, University of Konstanz 2016-07, Department of Economics, University of Konstanz.
    5. Ilyana Kuziemko & Michael I. Norton & Emmanuel Saez & Stefanie Stantcheva, 2015. "How Elastic Are Preferences for Redistribution? Evidence from Randomized Survey Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(4), pages 1478-1508, April.
    6. Cruces, Guillermo & Perez-Truglia, Ricardo & Tetaz, Martin, 2013. "Biased perceptions of income distribution and preferences for redistribution: Evidence from a survey experiment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 100-112.
    7. Kimmo Eriksson & Brent Simpson, 2012. "What do Americans know about inequality? It depends on how you ask them," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 7(6), pages 741-745, November.
    8. Kuhn, Andreas, 2015. "The Individual Perception of Wage Inequality: A Measurement Framework and Some Empirical Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 9579, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    9. Erzo F. P. Luttmer & Monica Singhal, 2011. "Culture, Context, and the Taste for Redistribution," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 157-179, February.
    10. Vivekinan Ashok & Ilyana Kuziemko & Ebonya Washington, 2015. "Support for Redistribution in an Age of Rising Inequality: New Stylized Facts and Some Tentative Explanations," NBER Working Papers 21529, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Engelhardt, Carina & Wagener, Andreas, 2014. "Biased Perceptions of Income Inequality and Redistribution," VfS Annual Conference 2014 (Hamburg): Evidence-based Economic Policy 100395, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    12. Vivekinan Ashok & Ilyana Kuziemko & Ebonya Washington, 2015. "Support for Redistribution in an Age of Rising Inequality: New Stylized Facts and Some Tentative Explanations," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 46(1 (Spring), pages 367-433.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Misperceptions of income distributions: Cross-country evidence from a randomized survey experiment
      by maximorossi in NEP-LTV blog on 2018-04-09 18:39:12

    Citations

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


    Cited by:

    1. Roberto Iacono & Marco Ranaldi, 2021. "The nexus between perceptions of inequality and preferences for redistribution," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 19(1), pages 97-114, March.
    2. Christopher Hoy & Franziska Mager, 2019. "Why are relatively poor people not more supportive of redistribution? Evidence from a survey experiment across 10 countries," Working Papers 489, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
    3. Dietmar Fehr & Johanna Mollerstrom & Ricardo Perez-Truglia, 2019. "Your Place in the World: Relative Income and Global Inequality," NBER Working Papers 26555, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Gimpelson, V. & Chernina, E., 2020. "How we perceive our place in income distribution and how the perceptions deviate from reality," Journal of the New Economic Association, New Economic Association, vol. 46(2), pages 30-56.
    5. Lergetporer, Philipp & Werner, Katharina & Woessmann, Ludger, 2020. "Educational inequality and public policy preferences: Evidence from representative survey experiments," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 188(C).
    6. Ricardo Perez-Truglia, 2020. "The Effects of Income Transparency on Well-Being: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 110(4), pages 1019-1054, April.
    7. Katharina Werner, 2019. "Der Einfluss von Informationen auf die öffentliche Meinung zur Bildung - Erkenntnisse aus repräsentativen Befragungsexperimenten," ifo Beiträge zur Wirtschaftsforschung, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, number 82.
    8. Campos-Vazquez, Raymundo M. & Krozer, Alice & Ramírez-Álvarez, Aurora A. & de la Torre, Rodolfo & Velez-Grajales, Roberto, 2022. "Perceptions of inequality and social mobility in Mexico," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 151(C).
    9. Christopher Hoy & Russell Toth, 2019. "A false divide? Correcting beliefs about inequality aligns preferences for redistribution between right and left-wing voters," Working Papers 494, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
    10. Cattaneo, Maria & Lergetporer, Philipp & Schwerdt, Guido & Werner, Katharina & Woessmann, Ludger & Wolter, Stefan C., 2020. "Information provision and preferences for education spending: Evidence from representative survey experiments in three countries," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 63(C).
    11. Lergetporer, Philipp & Werner, Katharina & Woessmann, Ludger, 2020. "Educational inequality and public policy preferences: Evidence from representative survey experiments," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 188(C).
    12. Hoy, Christopher & Mager, Franziska, 2021. "American exceptionalism? Differences in the elasticity of preferences for redistribution between the United States and Western Europe," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 192(C), pages 518-540.
    13. Antonino Callea & Dalila De Rosa & Giovanni Ferri & Francesca Lipari & Marco Costanzi, 2022. "Can Emotional Intelligence promote Individual Wellbeing and protect from perceptions' traps?," CERBE Working Papers wpC39, CERBE Center for Relationship Banking and Economics.
    14. Christopher Hoy & Russell Toth & Nurina Merdikawati, 2020. "How does Information about Inequality Shape Voting Intentions and Preferences for Redistribution? Evidence from a Randomized Survey Experiment in Indonesia," Working Papers 517, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Campos-Vazquez, Raymundo M. & Krozer, Alice & Ramírez-Álvarez, Aurora A. & de la Torre, Rodolfo & Velez-Grajales, Roberto, 2022. "Perceptions of inequality and social mobility in Mexico," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 151(C).
    2. Windsteiger, Lisa, 2022. "The redistributive consequences of segregation and misperceptions," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 144(C).
    3. Fehr Ernst & Epper Thomas & Senn Julien, 2020. "Other-regarding preferences and redistributive politics," ECON - Working Papers 339, Department of Economics - University of Zurich, revised Dec 2021.
    4. Katharina Werner, 2019. "Der Einfluss von Informationen auf die öffentliche Meinung zur Bildung - Erkenntnisse aus repräsentativen Befragungsexperimenten," ifo Beiträge zur Wirtschaftsforschung, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, number 82.
    5. Spencer Bastani & Daniel Waldenström, 2021. "Perceptions of Inherited Wealth and the Support for Inheritance Taxation," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 88(350), pages 532-569, April.
    6. Ernst Fehr & Thomas Epper & Julien Senn, 2022. "Other-Regarding Preferences and Redistributive Politics," CESifo Working Paper Series 9545, CESifo.
    7. Lisa Windsteiger, 2018. "Monopolistic Supply of Sorting, Inequality and Welfare," Working Papers tax-mpg-rps-2018-15, Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance.
    8. Choi, Gwangeun, 2019. "Revisiting the redistribution hypothesis with perceived inequality and redistributive preferences," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 220-244.
    9. Jeffrey, Karen, 2021. "Automation and the future of work: How rhetoric shapes the response in policy preferences," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 192(C), pages 417-433.
    10. Lisa Windsteiger, 2018. "Sorting in the Presence of Misperceptions," Working Papers tax-mpg-rps-2018-08, Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance.
    11. Lisa Windsteiger, 2017. "The Redistributive Consequences of Segregation," Working Papers tax-mpg-rps-2017-12, Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance.
    12. Laméris, Maite D. & Garretsen, Harry & Jong-A-Pin, Richard, 2020. "Political ideology and the intragenerational prospect of upward mobility," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 62(C).
    13. Ingar Haaland & Christopher Roth, 2019. "Beliefs about Racial Discrimination and Support for Pro-Black Policies," CESifo Working Paper Series 7828, CESifo.
    14. Ingvild Almås & Alexander W. Cappelen & Bertil Tungodden, 2020. "Cutthroat Capitalism versus Cuddly Socialism: Are Americans More Meritocratic and Efficiency-Seeking than Scandinavians?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 128(5), pages 1753-1788.
    15. Knell, Markus & Stix, Helmut, 2020. "Perceptions of inequality," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 65(C).
    16. Gwangeun Choi, 2021. "Individuals’ socioeconomic position, inequality perceptions, and redistributive preferences in OECD countries," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 19(2), pages 239-264, June.
    17. Eiji Yamamura, 2021. "Information of income position and its impact on perceived tax burden and preference for redistribution: An Internet Survey Experiment," Papers 2106.11537, arXiv.org.
    18. van Hoorn, Andre, 2018. "The Political Economy of Automation: Occupational Automatability and Preferences for Redistribution," MPRA Paper 86460, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    19. Gimpelson, V. & Chernina, E., 2020. "How we perceive our place in income distribution and how the perceptions deviate from reality," Journal of the New Economic Association, New Economic Association, vol. 46(2), pages 30-56.
    20. Gerard Domènech-Arumí, 2022. "Neighborhoods, Perceived Inequality, and Preferences for Redistribution :Evidence from Barcelona," Working Papers ECARES 2022-09, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    income distribution; biased perceptions; inequality; survey experiment;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    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:zbw:hwwirp:178. 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: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/hwwiide.html .

    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 bibliographic 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.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/hwwiide.html .

    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.