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In the Eye of the Beholder: Subjective Inequality Measures and the Demand for Redistribution


Kuhn, Andreas (2009). In the Eye of the Beholder: Subjective Inequality Measures and the Demand for Redistribution. Working paper series / Institute for Empirical Research in Economics No. 425, University of Zurich.

Abstract

This paper presents a simple conceptual framework intended for describing individuals'nsubjective evaluations of occupational wage inequality and their demand for redistribution. Most importantly, the framework explicitly allows for the distinction between individuals'nperceptions and their normative beliefs. I illustrate the framework using Swiss survey data from the International Social Survey Program. While most individuals accept quite large wage differentials across occupations, they also prefer a lower level of overall wage inequality than what they perceive to exist. Consistent with previous evidence, the empirical analysis also shows that financial self-interest, social norms about distributive justice and perceptions of how wages are determined in reality all simultaneously influence the demand for redistribution. Finally, I show that subjective inequality measures and the demand for redistribution are substantially significant predictors of both individuals' support for governmentnintervention and their party identification. This result provides indirect evidencenon the presumed link between perceptions and beliefs on the one hand and and politicalnoutcomes on the other hand.

Abstract

This paper presents a simple conceptual framework intended for describing individuals'nsubjective evaluations of occupational wage inequality and their demand for redistribution. Most importantly, the framework explicitly allows for the distinction between individuals'nperceptions and their normative beliefs. I illustrate the framework using Swiss survey data from the International Social Survey Program. While most individuals accept quite large wage differentials across occupations, they also prefer a lower level of overall wage inequality than what they perceive to exist. Consistent with previous evidence, the empirical analysis also shows that financial self-interest, social norms about distributive justice and perceptions of how wages are determined in reality all simultaneously influence the demand for redistribution. Finally, I show that subjective inequality measures and the demand for redistribution are substantially significant predictors of both individuals' support for governmentnintervention and their party identification. This result provides indirect evidencenon the presumed link between perceptions and beliefs on the one hand and and politicalnoutcomes on the other hand.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Working Paper
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Working Paper Series > Institute for Empirical Research in Economics (former)
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Language:English
Date:August 2009
Deposited On:29 Nov 2011 20:09
Last Modified:12 Aug 2017 12:46
Series Name:Working paper series / Institute for Empirical Research in Economics
ISSN:1424-0459
Official URL:http://www.econ.uzh.ch/wp.html

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