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Is Support for Income Redistribution Really Falling?

With stagnant wages and rising inequality already emerging as key issues in the 2016 Presidential race, there is, naturally, a lot of interest in how voters view the prospect of the federal government adopting more redistributive policies, such as raising taxes on the wealthy. Intuition and rational-choice theory would suggest that, as the gap between the wealthy and everybody else increases, support for redistribution goes up. But a number of empirical studies published in recent years have cast doubt on this theory, finding that support for redistribution has remained flat, or even that it has fallen.

For instance, a 2010 study by Nathan J. Kelly, of the University of Tennessee, and Peter K. Enns, of Cornell University, concluded, “When inequality in America rises, the public responds with increased conservative sentiment.” In a 2013 paper by Matthew Luttig, of the University of Minnesota, backed up this finding, noting, “the absolute level and the changing structure of inequality have largely been a force promoting conservatism, not increasing support for redistribution as theoretically expected.”

via Is Support for Income Redistribution Really Falling? – The New Yorker.

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