Discussion Paper Details

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Title: Intergenerational Mobility and Preferences for Redistribution

Author(s): Alberto F Alesina, Stefanie Stantcheva and Edoardo Teso

Publication Date: January 2017

Keyword(s): Fairness, intergenerational mobility, Online Experiment, redistribution and taxation

Programme Area(s): Public Economics

Abstract: Using newly collected cross-country survey and experimental data, we investigate how beliefs about intergenerational mobility affect preferences for redistribution in five countries: France, Italy, Sweden, U.K., and U.S.. Americans are more optimistic than Europeans about intergenerational mobility, and too optimistic relative to actual mobility. Our randomized treatment that shows respondents pessimistic information about mobility increases support for redistribution, mostly for equality of opportunity policies. A strong political polarization exists: Left-wing respondents are more pessimistic about intergenerational mobility, their preferences for redistribution are correlated with their mobility perceptions, and they respond to pessimistic information by increasing support for redistribution. None of these apply to right-wing respondents, possibly because of their extremely negative views of government.

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Bibliographic Reference

Alesina, A, Stantcheva, S and Teso, E. 2017. 'Intergenerational Mobility and Preferences for Redistribution'. London, Centre for Economic Policy Research.