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Using a series experiments conducted in two countries, we examine how poor institutions influence individuals support for redistribution. Conventional wisdom in the literature on micro-level preferences for redistribution suggests that the rich almost always oppose redistributive social policies and the poor almost always support them. Contrary to this view, we argue that high-earning individuals will prefer more redistribution when they can more easily evade taxes. To test our expectations, we conducted a two sets of experiments. The first was a series of laboratory experiments from February to May 2016 simulating earned income and tax evasion. We find that high earners do indeed prefer more redistribution when they can more easily under-report their income. We supplement these findings with a series of framing experiments conducted on a nationally representative survey, which generally confirms the findings from the laboratory setting. Our findings make an important contribution to the little studied question of how institutional quality affects social policy preferences and has important implications for the literature on the welfare state and political economy more broadly.
About Dr. Marques: A Virginia native, Israel Marques recently defended his Ph.D in the Political Science program at Columbia University. He is currently a post-doctoral research fellow at the International Center for the Study of Institutions and Development at the National Research University – Higher School of Economics in Russia. His research addresses two fundamental questions in comparative politics. When do governments provide social policy programs to their populations and who supports such programs? Ideally, social policy is an important economic tool that encourages skill investment, eases coordination dilemmas between employers and workers, and provides a vital safety net. Often, however, it is used as a tool for buying political support. Who supports social policy is critical for understanding which of these goals it can serve, as well as for understanding specific policy choices. The micro-foundations of social policy therefore touch on questions central to work on the welfare state, distributive politics, and political institutions. His work can be roughly divided into three areas – the micro-foundations of support for social policy, business-state relations, and distributive politics (the use of public funds to generate political support). His main regional focus is on the post-communist countries of Europe and Asia.
His dissertation explores public opinion with respect to welfare state policies in developing countries. What sorts of social policies do individuals and firms want and how do they want them to be provided? Do individuals and firms want the state to take the lead in providing social policies or do they prefer employer-based systems? How does variation in institutional quality across countries alter demand for welfare state structures? Answers to these questions allow us to understand who supports the welfare state and is an important piece in understanding the trajectory of welfare state formation and reform across time. This work also has important implications for our understanding of political and economic development, business-state relations, and distributive politics more broadly. His other work touches on related questions, including the use of public-private partnerships to reform skill formation and shape the labor market, business lobbying strategies in Russia, and distributive politics in Russia.
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