Attitudes Towards a Wealth Tax– The Influence of Perceived Inequality and Media Frames in Germany

24 Pages Posted: 31 Oct 2022

Date Written: October 12, 2021

Abstract

The public and social sciences debate how exactly citizens perceive economic and the extent to which misperceptions influence distributional policy preferences. The article examines this using the example of a wealth tax in Germany, which was suspended in 1996 and whose reintroduction is repeatedly called for. Is the tax burden on wealthy households - determined with the estimated top income tax rate - perceived in a distorted way and does this have consequences for the support of a wealth tax? An online survey empirically examines the effects of perceptions on the one hand and media framing of wealth taxes on the other. Respondents tend to estimate the tax burden of top income as too high. According to the data, the bias reduces political support for a wealth tax. But perceived fairness plays out as even stronger predictor compared to biased top tax esti-mates. The introduction of "taxes on the rich" moves in the field of tension between me-dia images of privileged wealth on the one hand and threats of the economy on the other to relocate their enterprises and diminish jobs. The struggle for public naming power in the mass media is fought out with specific frames. According to experiments, support for a wealth tax decreases significantly when frames activate possible job losses. Support for a wealth tax, finally, is uncertain the more political communication plays out the job frame.

Suggested Citation

Ursula, Dallinger, Attitudes Towards a Wealth Tax– The Influence of Perceived Inequality and Media Frames in Germany (October 12, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4256712 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4256712

Dallinger Ursula (Contact Author)

University of Trier/ Germany ( email )

Germany

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