Personal Relative Position, Attribution and Social Trust

57 Pages Posted: 15 Mar 2021 Last revised: 2 Feb 2022

See all articles by Andrea Albertazzi

Andrea Albertazzi

University of Essex

Patrick Lown

University of Essex

Friederike Mengel

University of Essex

Date Written: February 19, 2021

Abstract

Across the social sciences researchers have debated the impact income inequality has on people's perceptions, specifically on attribution and social trust. In this paper we use a combination of surveys and behavioral lab experiments to identify a causal impact of inequality on attribution and social trust. We find that higher relative position has a positive impact on belief in meritocracy and social trust, which we causally identify both using a novel incentivized lab task as well as standard survey measures. These results are in line with correlational associations we find using larger general surveys. They speak to why inequality can be so socially and economically corrosive while at the same time remaining largely unaddressed.

Keywords: Income Inequality, Attribution, Belief in Meritocracy, Social Trust, Experiments

JEL Classification: C92, D30, I30

Suggested Citation

Albertazzi, Andrea and Lown, Patrick and Mengel, Friederike, Personal Relative Position, Attribution and Social Trust (February 19, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3789067 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3789067

Andrea Albertazzi

University of Essex ( email )

Wivenhoe Park
Colchester, CO4 3SQ
United Kingdom

Patrick Lown

University of Essex ( email )

Wivenhoe Park
Colchester, CO4 3SQ
United Kingdom

Friederike Mengel (Contact Author)

University of Essex ( email )

Wivenhoe Park
Colchester, CO4 3SQ
United Kingdom

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