Who wants more rungs on the ladder of opportunity?

For anyone interested in understanding attitudes about redistribution, a new working paper from Alberto Alesina and Paola Giuliano titled Preferences for Redistribution is a must-read. Some snippets.

We start our analysis by examining the individual determinants of preferences for redistribution in the United States … Results of this type of regression are by now well known, but it is worth briefly reviewing some of the basic facts. First of all, the richer you are, the less you favor redistribution, which is, of course, not surprising. The second striking result from this regression is that, even after controlling for income, marital status, employment status, education and age, race has a very strong effect: blacks are much more favorable to redistribution than whites. …

Women are more pro-redistribution then men, even though the effect of gender is much smaller than that of race. … Even after controlling for income, education enters with a significant and negative coefficient: more educated individuals are more averse to redistribution. Perhaps this captures prospects for upward mobility: people invest more in education, holding income constant, to be upwardly mobile. More left-wing individuals are more pro-redistribution even after controlling for income, which already points in the direction of models highlighted above where an ideological dimension matters. …

In this section, we briefly look at preferences for redistribution using cross-country evidence. … Eastern European countries are the most pro-government redistribution (a not surprising effect of left-wing ideology), followed by Latin America and Northern European countries. Asian countries, the US, Australia and New Zealand are in the bottom part of the distribution.

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