Preferences for Redistribution in the Land of Opportunities

44 Pages Posted: 14 Dec 2001

See all articles by Alberto F. Alesina

Alberto F. Alesina

Harvard University - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Eliana La Ferrara

University of Bocconi - Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research (IGIER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: November 2001

Abstract

The poor favor redistribution and the rich oppose it, but that is not all. Social mobility may make some of today's poor into tomorrow's rich and since redistributive policies do not change often, individual preferences for redistribution should depend on the extent and the nature of social mobility. We estimate the determinants of preferences for redistribution using individual level data from the US, and we find that individual support for redistribution is negatively affected by social mobility. Furthermore, the impact of mobility on attitudes towards redistribution is affected by individual perceptions of fairness in the mobility process. People who believe that the American society offers equal opportunities to all are more averse to redistribution in the face of increased mobility. On the other hand, those who see the social rat race as a biased process do not see social mobility as an alternative to redistributive policies.

Suggested Citation

Alesina, Alberto F. and La Ferrara, Eliana, Preferences for Redistribution in the Land of Opportunities (November 2001). Harvard Institute of Economic Research Paper No. 1936. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=293779 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.293779

Alberto F. Alesina (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

Littauer Center
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-8388 (Phone)
617-495-7730 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

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United Kingdom

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Eliana La Ferrara

University of Bocconi - Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research (IGIER) ( email )

Via Roentgen 1
Milan, 20136
Italy
+39 02 5836 3328 (Phone)
+39 02 5836 3302 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

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