Why don’t US citizens demand for redistribution? The role of equality, equity, efficiency.

Dr. Bruno Martorano, UNU-MERIT

In an online experiment, we provide 5000 US participants with facts on inequality of wealth, inequality of opportunity and the changeability of inequality and test its impact on US citizens view on inequality, their preferences for redistributive policies and (incentivized) civic action. We find that both priming on US inequality and social mobility increases people’s concern about inequality and equity in the US but barely chances preferences for redistribution nor increases social media participation or donations to an NGO with the objective of reducing inequalities in the US. However, if we provide information that compares the US with Canada – which has comparable income and wealth levels but a much lower inequality and much higher social mobility – people start to change their redistributive preferences and civic behaviour. We also find that videos are a more effective communication tool than text articles to change participants’ knowledge and views on inequality.

About the speaker

I am an assistant professor at the Maastricht Graduate School of Governance/UNU-MERIT (Maastricht University). Prior to this I have worked at the ETH Zurich - NADEL Center for Development and Cooperation in Zurich, Institute of Development Studies in Brighton, UNICEF Office of Research in Florence and the University of Florence, and have held consultancies for the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, University of Antwerp, UNCTAD, UNU-WIDER, UNIDO, UNDP and the World Bank. I hold a PhD in Development Economics from the University of Florence.

My research interests include development economics, inequality, poverty, subjective wellbeing, fiscal policy and policy evaluation. The ultimate goal of my research is to understand whether it is possible to overcome the trade-off between equity and efficiency, producing results that have practical or actionable implications for policy. My recent research has also focused on understanding how psychological mechanisms affect decision-making, economic and social outcomes and, ultimately, the consequences and persistence of inequalities between socioeconomic groups.

Venue: 0.16/0.17

Date: 26 September 2019

Time: 12:00 - 13:00