Watson Institute at Brown University
Stone Inequality Initiative

The Rich are Different from You and Me: Income, Perceptions of Inequality and Support for Redistribution

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

4:30pm – 6:00pm

McKinney Conference Room, 3rd Floor, 111 Thayer Street

Reception to follow.

In this paper we focus on perceptions of (or beliefs about) macro inequality and we argue that perceptions matter differently to the rich and the poor. We hypothesise that economic self-interest and other factors make inequality perceptions push the redistribution preferences of the poor in a similar direction (i.e., more perceived inequality, more homogeneous support for redistribution). For the rich, we argue that economic self-interest versus other concerns push redistribution preferences in opposing directions and increase their variance. Our paper attempts a degree of methodological triangulation by developing both an observational and an experimental analysis supporting our theoretical claims. First we show how perceptions matter for the rich and for the poor in an analysis of ISSP data (1999, 2009 and 2019). We then develop an online survey experiment with a randomized information treatment designed to shift perceptions of macro inequality.

David Rueda is Professor of Comparative Politics at the Department of Politics and International Relations and Professorial Fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford University. He is the author of Social Democracy Inside Out (Oxford University Press, 2007) and his articles have appeared in journals such as the Annual Review of Political ScienceAmerican Political Science Review, and American Journal of Political Science. His current research focuses on the causes and consequences of inequality, the determinants of redistribution preferences, the role of the welfare state in times of crisis, and insider-outsider politics.

Moderated by James Morone, John Hazen White Professor of Public Policy, Professor of Political Science and Urban Studies