Why Are Relatively Poor People Not More Supportive of Redistribution?

We test a key assumption underlying seminal theories about preferences for redistribution, which is that relatively poor people should be the most in favor of redistribution. We conduct a randomized survey experiment with over 30,000 participants across 10 countries, half of whom are informed of their position in the national income distribution. Contrary to prevailing wisdom, people who are told they are relatively poorer than they thought are less concerned about inequality and are not more supportive of redistribution. This finding is consistent with people using their own living standard as a “benchmark” for what they consider acceptable for others.

That is from a newly published paper by Christopher Hoy and Franziska Mager.

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