Expectations of Social Mobility, Meritocracy and the Demand for Redistribution in Spain
Centro de Estudios Andaluces Working Paper No. S2008/03
34 Pages Posted: 5 Oct 2008
Date Written: September 2008
Meltzer and Richard (1981) state that democracy will boost redistribution of income from the rich to the poor. Given that the median voter is poorer than the average-income voter, a majority of voters will vote for redistribution. However, the positive relationship between democracy and equalization of income has been highly criticized on both theoretical and empirical grounds. From a rational point of view, why do not the poor vote for a higher level of redistribution? Some scholars have argued that expectations of social mobility may induce the poor to believe they will have a higher income in the future and thus to vote against redistribution. However, the sociological literature has shown that people are not well aware of their relative position on the income ladder, because they evaluate their relative income through comparison to others. In this paper, I analyze to what extent preferences for redistribution at the individual level depend on expectations of future income and meritocracy. Departing from previous studies, I analyze whether expectations of social mobility are related to true probability of mobility or whether they are based on subjective expectations of mobility, which depend on perceived position on the income ladder. Empirical results show that preferences for redistribution depend on both expectations of social mobility and meritocracy, although subjective expectations of social mobility have a stronger impact on preferences for redistribution than objective expectations.
Keywords: inequality, social mobility, redistribution, preferences, expectations
JEL Classification: D63, D84, I38, J62
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation