Social Insurance and Income Redistribution in a Laboratory Experiment
Justin Esarey, Timothy Salmon & Charles Barrilleaux
Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming
Abstract: Why do some voters support income redistribution while others do not? Public assistance programs have two entangled effects on society: they equalize wealth, but they also cushion people against random catastrophes (like natural disasters). The authors conduct a laboratory experiment to determine how individuals' responses to the environment are related to their self-expressed political ideology and their self-interest. The findings support the hypothesis that ideology is associated with a person's willingness to use redistribution to reduce income inequality that is caused by luck, but it is not related to preferences for inequality that are not related to luck.
(Nod to Kevin Lewis)