Misperceptions of Relative Affluence and Support for International Redistribution

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Authors Gautam Nair
Journal/Conference Name THE JOURNAL OF POLITICS
Paper Category
Paper Abstract Against a backdrop of vast income disparities across countries, this article develops a theory of how misperceptions of individuals’ relative international income shape mass support for cross-national transfers in the developed world. It tests this theory using a real-stakes experiment implemented on a nationally representative survey in the United States. I find that participants underestimate their percentile rank in the global income distribution by 27 points on average and overestimate the global median income by a factor of 10. Respondents who were randomly assigned to information on the global income distribution supported higher spending on foreign aid and cuts in agricultural trade protections at larger rates. A behavioral measure validates these survey data—donations to charities abroad rise by 55% relative to the control group. These findings contribute to our understanding of subjective perceptions, preferences for cross-border redistribution, and the conditions under which information can shap...
Date of publication 2018
Code Programming Language R

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