Culture, Context, and the Taste for Redistribution
Is culture an important determinant of preferences for redistribution? To separate the effect of culture from the effect of the economic and institutional environment ("context"), we relate immigrants' preferences for redistribution to the average preference in their birth countries, controlling extensively for individual characteristics and country-of-residence fixed effects. We find a strong positive relationship. This cultural effect is larger for non-voters, those with shorter tenure in the country of residence, and those who move to countries with a large number of immigrants from their own birth countries. Immigrants from countries with a higher preference for redistribution are also more likely to vote for a more pro-redistribution political party. The effect of culture persists strongly into the second generation.
We thank George Borjas, Paola Giuliano, Ed Glaeser, Rafael Marques, and seminar participants at Harvard, the National Tax Association meetings, and the NBER workshop on Income Distribution and Macroeconomics for helpful comments. We thank Octavia Foarta, Andra Hibbert, Jill Gentry Leandro, Kate Mikels, and Adam Ruder for excellent research assistance. Erzo Luttmer gratefully acknowledges funding from the Taubman Center for State and Local Government and the National Institute on Aging through Grant Number T32-AG00186 to the National Bureau of Economic Research. Monica Singhal gratefully acknowledges funding from the Taubman Center for State and Local Government and the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. All errors are our own. The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Erzo F. P. Luttmer & Monica Singhal, 2011. "Culture, Context, and the Taste for Redistribution," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 157-79, February. citation courtesy of