Cutthroat Capitalism Versus Cuddly Socialism: Are Americans More Meritocratic and Efficiency-Seeking than Scandinavians?

47 Pages Posted: 2 Dec 2016  

Ingvild Almås

Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) - Department of Economics

Alexander W. Cappelen

Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) - Department of Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Bertil Tungodden

Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) - Department of Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: November 15, 2016

Abstract

There is a striking difference in income inequality and redistributive policies between the United States and Scandinavia. To study whether there is a corresponding cross-country difference in social preferences, we conducted the first large-scale international social preference experiment, with nationally representative samples from the United States and Norway. We introduce a new experimental approach, which combines the infrastructure of an international online market place and the infrastructure of a leading international data collection agency. A novel feature of our experiment is that Americans and Norwegians make real distributive choices in identical situations where they have complete information about the source of inequality and the cost of redistribution. We show that Americans and Norwegians differ significantly in fairness views, but not in the importance assigned to efficiency. The study also provides robust causal evidence of fairness considerations being much more fundamental for inequality acceptance than efficiency considerations in both countries.

Suggested Citation

Almås, Ingvild and Cappelen, Alexander W. and Tungodden, Bertil, Cutthroat Capitalism Versus Cuddly Socialism: Are Americans More Meritocratic and Efficiency-Seeking than Scandinavians? (November 15, 2016). NHH Dept. of Economics Discussion Paper No. 18/2016. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2879358

Ingvild Almås

Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) - Department of Economics ( email )

Helleveien 30
N-5035 Bergen
Norway

Alexander W. Cappelen

Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) - Department of Economics ( email )

Helleveien 30
N-5035 Bergen
Norway

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Bertil Tungodden (Contact Author)

Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) - Department of Economics ( email )

Helleveien 30
N-5035 Bergen
Norway

Paper statistics

Downloads
256
Rank
80,762
Abstract Views
812