Monday, January 14, 2013

Inequality, Inequity, and Solidarity

What do Americans know about inequality? It depends on how you ask them

Kimmo Eriksson & Brent Simpson
Judgment and Decision Making, November 2012, Pages 741–745

Abstract: A recent survey of inequality (Norton and Ariely, Perspectives on Psychological Science, 6, 9–12) asked respondents to indicate what percent of the nation’s total wealth is — and should be — controlled by richer and poorer quintiles of the U.S. population. We show that such measures lead to powerful anchoring effects that account for the otherwise remarkable findings that respondents reported perceiving, and desiring, extremely low inequality in wealth. We show that the same anchoring effects occur in other domains, namely web page popularity and school teacher salaries. We introduce logically equivalent questions about average levels of inequality that lead to more accurate responses. Finally, when we made respondents aware of the logical connection between the two measures, the majority said that typical responses to the average measures, indicating higher levels of inequality, better reflected their actual perceptions and preferences than did typical responses to percent measures.


Income inequality and solidarity in Europe

Marii Paskov &Caroline Dewilde
Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, December 2012, Pages 415–432

Abstract:  This paper studies the relationship between income inequality, a macro-level characteristic, and solidarity of Europeans. To this aim, solidarity is defined as the ‘willingness to contribute to the welfare of other people’. We rely on a theoretical idea according to which feelings of solidarity are derived from both affective and calculating considerations – we derive competing hypotheses relating the extent of income inequality to these ‘underlying’ motivations for solidarity. Using data from the 1999 European Values Study (EVS), we apply multilevel analysis for 26 European countries. Controlling for household income and a range of macro-level characteristics, we find evidence that in more unequal countries people are less willing to take action to improve the living conditions of their fellow-countrymen. This is true for respondents living in both low- and high-income households. According to our theoretical framework, this finding suggests that, at least when measured in terms of ‘willingness to contribute to the welfare of other people’, feelings of solidarity seem to be influenced more strongly by affective, rather than by calculating considerations.

Nod to Kevin Lewis

1 comment:

Tom said...

"Respondents [were asked] to indicate what percent of the nation’s total wealth ...should be — controlled by richer and poorer quintiles." When I get richer, I'm still sad if other people got more richer.

If I got poorer, I'd still be happy if nasty rich got hit harder.