Research

Working Papers

Non-selfish behaviour: Are social preferences or social norms revealed in distribution decisions? with Shaun Hargreaves Heap and Konstantinos Matakos [Poster] [5min Video]

People frequently choose to reduce own payoffs to help others. This non-selfish behavior is typically assumed to arise because people are motivated by social preferences. An alternative explanation is that they follow social norms. We test which of these two accounts can better explain subjects’ decisions in a simple distribution game. We find that norm-following explains people’s distributive choices better than social preferences, and lack of confidence in one’s social preference predicts norm-following.

Experience of Social Mobility and Support for Redistribution: Beating the Odds or Blaming the System?

How does the experience of social mobility affect people’s distributive preferences? Using cross-country survey data and a survey experiment, I examine the effects of experienced social mobility on support for redistribution. The results indicate an asymmetric relationship – experiencing downward mobility increases support for redistribution while experiencing upward mobility does not affect distributive preferences. This finding suggests a potential demand-side explanation for the Great Gatsby Curve: As overall absolute mobility decreases (increases), ceteris paribus, demand for redistribution also decreases (increases).

Social preferences and the Value of Life: Evidence fairness matters with Shaun Hargreaves Heap, Christel Koop, Konstantinos Matakos and Asli Unan [5min Video]

In an online survey we elicit and compare the value of statistical life (VSL) using a standard willingness-to-pay (WTP) for a reduction in the personal chances of death with an analogous social planner type question that we design to engage better with people’s social preferences. Our results indicate that standard figures significantly underestimate the VSL that is appropriate for major policy interventions. Taking social preferences into account doubles the VSL.

Why do (some) ordinary Americans support tax cuts for the rich? Evidence from a randomized survey experiment with David Hope and Julian Limberg [Washington Post]

Why do (some) ordinary citizens support tax cuts for the rich? We use a randomized survey experiment in the US to identify the drivers of preferences for cutting taxes on the rich. We find that preferences for taxing the rich are fundamentally affected by information that shifts citizens’ core fairness beliefs, as well as information on the past trajectory of top tax rates.

Work in Progress

Good Inequality, Bad Inequality, and the Entitlement Effect with Konstantinos Matakos

Covid-19 Research

We cannot disagree forever! Reality polarization and citizens’ post-pandemic fiscal adjustment preferences with Shaun Hargreaves Heap, Christel Koop, Konstantinos Matakos and Asli Unan [Washington Post]

Good News for Whom? The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine announcement reduced political trust with Shaun Hargreaves Heap, Christel Koop, Konstantinos Matakos and Asli Unan – Conditionally accepted, PLOS ONE [Replication files]

COVID-19 and People’s Health-Wealth Preferences: Information Effects and Policy Implications with Shaun Hargreaves Heap, Christel Koop, Konstantinos Matakos and Asli Unan [Politics JaM Podcast] [Vox EU] – Covid Economics, Issue 22 (2020)