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The Size and Shape of Government: Preferences over redistributive tax policy

Barnes, Lucy (2014) The Size and Shape of Government: Preferences over redistributive tax policy. Socio-economic review, 13 (1). pp. 55-78. ISSN 1475-1461. E-ISSN 1475-147X. (doi:10.1093/ser/mwu007) (KAR id:41043)


Why do some people support government redistribution more than others? This article addresses this question with reference to attitudes towards redistributive tax policy. In doing so, it identifies an important distinction between preferences over the level of taxation and preferences over its structure. Using individual-level survey data from 17 advanced industrial countries, I find ‘decoupling’ of pro-redistributive attitudes over the size versus the shape of government. The modal respondent prefers higher progressivity (more redistribution) but lower tax levels (less redistribution). Further, this decoupling varies across countries: preferences over tax levels have a greater effect on progressivity preferences in less progressive tax systems. I examine how theories of redistribution preferences help understand this disconnect, and show that income and risk affect progressivity preferences as they do attitudes towards redistribution. In contrast, trust affects preferences over tax levels in the same way as it affects redistribution preferences.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1093/ser/mwu007
Uncontrolled keywords: taxation, redistribution, preferences
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
Depositing User: Lucy Barnes
Date Deposited: 08 May 2014 16:06 UTC
Last Modified: 09 Dec 2022 03:03 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Barnes, Lucy.

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