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Why does the amount of income redistribution differ between United States and Europe? The Janus face of Switzerland


Akkoyunlu, Sule; Neustadt, Ilja; Zweifel, Peter (2008). Why does the amount of income redistribution differ between United States and Europe? The Janus face of Switzerland. Working paper series / Socioeconomic Institute No. 810, University of Zurich.

Abstract

In this paper, the amount of income redistribution in the United States, the European Union, and Switzerland is compared and empirically related to economic, political, and behavioral determinants elaborated in the literature. Lying in between the two poles, Switzerland provides unique evidence about the relative merits of competing hypotheses. It tips the balance against the economic explanation, which predicts more rather than less income redistribution in the United States compared to the EU. It only weakly supports the political model linking proportional representation and multiparty structure (which also characterize Switzerland) to redistribution; yet the Swiss share of transfers in the GDP is low. Behavioral explanations receive a good deal of support from the case of Switzerland, a country that shares with the United States the belief that hard work rather than luck, birth, connections, and corruption determine wealth. In this way, the Janus face of Switzerland may help to explain the difference in the amount of U.S. and EU income redistribution.

In this paper, the amount of income redistribution in the United States, the European Union, and Switzerland is compared and empirically related to economic, political, and behavioral determinants elaborated in the literature. Lying in between the two poles, Switzerland provides unique evidence about the relative merits of competing hypotheses. It tips the balance against the economic explanation, which predicts more rather than less income redistribution in the United States compared to the EU. It only weakly supports the political model linking proportional representation and multiparty structure (which also characterize Switzerland) to redistribution; yet the Swiss share of transfers in the GDP is low. Behavioral explanations receive a good deal of support from the case of Switzerland, a country that shares with the United States the belief that hard work rather than luck, birth, connections, and corruption determine wealth. In this way, the Janus face of Switzerland may help to explain the difference in the amount of U.S. and EU income redistribution.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Working Paper
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Working Paper Series > Socioeconomic Institute (former)
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
JEL Classification:D31, D63, D64, H53, I31
Language:English
Date:September 2008
Deposited On:29 Nov 2011 22:47
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:12
Series Name:Working paper series / Socioeconomic Institute
Official URL:http://www.econ.uzh.ch/wp.html
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-52397

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