We test a key assumption underlying seminal theories about preferences for redistribution, which is that relatively poor people should be the most in favor of redistribution. We conduct a randomized survey experiment with over 30,000 participants across 10 countries, half of whom are informed of their position in the national income distribution. Contrary to prevailing wisdom, people who are told they are relatively poorer than they thought are less concerned about inequality and are not more supportive of redistribution. This finding is consistent with people using their own living standard as a "benchmark" for what they consider acceptable for others.
Hoy, Christopher, and Franziska Mager.
"Why Are Relatively Poor People Not More Supportive of Redistribution? Evidence from a Randomized Survey Experiment across Ten Countries."
American Economic Journal: Economic Policy,
Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
Personal Income, Wealth, and Their Distributions
Taxation and Subsidies: Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
General Welfare; Well-Being
Measurement and Analysis of Poverty