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Taxing the Rich: Public Preferences and Public Understanding

Barnes, L; (2021) Taxing the Rich: Public Preferences and Public Understanding. Journal of European Public Policy 10.1080/13501763.2021.1992485. (In press).

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Abstract

Who supports high taxes on the rich? Existing accounts of public attitudes focus on egalitarian values and material interests, but make little mention of the ideas people hold about how the economy works descriptively. Drawing on the distinction between positive- and zero-sum beliefs about the economy, and original survey data from five countries, I show that there are systematic differences in tax progressivity preferences across groups within the public who think differently about the economy. Positive-sum thinking is associated with less progressive preferences. However, despite theoretical attention, there is no evidence of systematic zero-sum thinking among the public. On the other hand, some descriptions focus on conflict between rich and poor, and these do predict support for greater progressivity. Further analysis is required to differentiate alternative causal explanations of the patterns observed, but different modes of descriptive economic thinking are an important feature of the mass politics of progressivity.

Type: Article
Title: Taxing the Rich: Public Preferences and Public Understanding
DOI: 10.1080/13501763.2021.1992485
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1080/13501763.2021.1992485
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Ideas, public opinion, taxation
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Political Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10129857
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