NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Intergenerational Mobility and Support for Redistribution

Alberto Alesina, Stefanie Stantcheva, Edoardo Teso

NBER Working Paper No. 23027
Issued in January 2017, Revised in June 2017
NBER Program(s):Public Economics, Political Economy

Using new cross-country survey and experimental data, we investigate how beliefs about intergenerational mobility affect preferences for redistribution in France, Italy, Sweden, the U.K., and the U.S.. Americans are more optimistic than Europeans about social mobility. Our randomized treatment shows pessimistic information about mobility and increases support for redistribution, mostly for "equality of opportunity" policies. We find a strong political polarization. Left-wing respondents are more pessimistic about mobility, their preferences for redistribution are correlated with their mobility perceptions, and they support more redistribution after seeing pessimistic information. None of these apply to right-wing respondents, possibly because they see the government as a "problem" and not as the "solution."

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23027

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