42 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2014
Date Written: February 28, 2014
Income inequality has risen dramatically in the United States, with potentially negative social, economic, and political consequences. Governments can use redistributive tax policies to combat inequality, but doing so requires public support. When will voters support redistributive tax policies? We address this question by conducting survey experiments where citizens express opinions about tax policies in a real-world context. We manipulate whether they receive party cues, information about rising income inequality, both, or neither type of information. We find that when citizens are given information about income inequality, they connect it to their views on redistributive tax policies. We also find that inequality information can induce Republicans to support a tax increase that their party opposes. These results challenge the prominent view of citizens as too ignorant to connect information about inequality to specific taxes. They also suggest that efforts to inform the electorate about inequality can influence tax policy opinions.
Keywords: income inequality, party cues, experiment, redistribution, public opinion, tax policy
JEL Classification: C90, C99, D72, D79, D81, D83
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Boudreau, Cheryl and MacKenzie, Scott A., Wanting What Is Fair: How Party Cues and Information About Income Inequality Affect Public Support for Taxes (February 28, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2405294 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2405294