Fairness or material interest? Equality of opportunity, intergenerational mobility, and support for redistribution



Miércoles 3 noviembre 12.30h, aula 17.2.75

"Fairness or Material Interest? Equality of Opportunity, Intergenerational Mobility, and
Support for Redistribution in Industrialized Democracies"

Beliefs in equality of opportunity and intergenerational mobility are increasingly popular as an
explanation for redistribution preferences. Some individuals (even if they are poor) may be
more willing to accept inequality as a result of a fair meritocratic process. Others (even when
they are rich) may support redistribution if they believe inequality to be the result of an unfair
system. In this talk (based on co-authored work with Verena Fetscher), we start with the
relationship between material self-interest and redistribution preferences as a baseline. We
then introduce the arguments about equality of opportunity and intergenerational mobility
that have been provided in the literature as important factors influencing the baseline effect of
income. And we introduce a set of intuitions why the theorized effects of perceptions of equal
opportunity or intergenerational mobility may be income-dependent (more relevant to the
rich, less so to the poor). We test our hypotheses with data  from  3  different  surveys:   ISSP 
2009,  EB  2017,  ESS 2018. We find a significant income-dependent equality of opportunity
effect on redistribution support, we find little effect of intergenerational mobility, and no
relation between equality of opportunity and intergenerational mobility. We finally propose a
survey experiment to complement our observational analysis.

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