Information on Income Concentration and Redistribution Preferences: The Case of the Top 1% in the United States
42 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2022
Date Written: October 27, 2022
Over the last decades income inequality has soared in the U.S., but we still have a very limited understanding regarding the relationship between objective aspects of income inequality and redistribution attitudes. Few studies, in particular, utilize experimental methodologies to assess whether having reliable, non-partisan information on income concentration affects the formation of redistribution attitudes. We advance this emerging literature through an analysis of information concerning the income owned by the top 1% of the income distribution — a group that is socio-politically meaningful and axial to the recent rise of inequality. The empirical evidence draws on a novel split-sample survey experiment (N=4,000) conducted in Autumn 2021. To ensure that the results capture net learning processes, we collect guesstimates of the level of income concentration of control- and treatment-group participants and assess whether providing the real value influences redistribution attitudes of under- or overestimators. The results indicate that having the real value of income concentration does not have an average, significant effect on redistribution attitudes. It does not moderate the positive association between prior perceptions of concentration and these attitudes either. The real value, however, reduces pro-redistribution attitudes among the restricted group of extreme overestimators who processed the information more intensely.
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