The Origins of Sociotropic Policy Preferences
59 Pages Posted: 4 Feb 2017 Last revised: 26 Sep 2017
Date Written: September 2017
Economic considerations help explain why voters support some reforms, candidates, and parties while they oppose others. Previous work suggests that these preferences have both egoistic and sociotropic roots. We argue that sociotropic considerations reflect altruistic concerns for the poor and evaluate our argument by designing an experiment that details how a reform affects one's personal income, the average income in the country, and earnings of other individuals belonging to different income groups. The results from a large, population-based sample of American citizens suggest that changes in a country's average income are a significant driver of reform support irrespective of whether an individual personally gains or loses. This sensitivity seems to reflect pro-social concerns about the welfare of those that are worst off.
Keywords: Redistribution, Economic Policy, Individual Preferences, Self-Interest, Sociotropic Concerns, Altruism, Reforms, Survey Experiment, Conjoint Design
JEL Classification: D03, D6, C83, C90
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation