Voting for redistribution under desert-sensitive altruism

R.I. Luttens, M.A. Valfort

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We endow individuals who differ in skills and tastes for working, with altruistic preferences for redistribution in a voting model where a unidimensional redistributive parameter is chosen by majority voting in a direct democracy. When altruistic preferences are desert‐sensitive (i.e., when there is a reluctance to redistribute from the hard‐working to the lazy), we show that lower levels of redistribution emerge in political equilibrium. We provide empirical evidence that preferences for redistribution are not purely selfish, and that desert‐sensitive motivations play a significant role. We estimate that preferences for redistribution are significantly more desert‐sensitive in the US than in Europe.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)881-907
JournalThe Scandinavian Journal of Economics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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