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The size and shape of government: preferences over redistributive tax policy

Barnes, L; (2015) The size and shape of government: preferences over redistributive tax policy. Socio-Economic Review , 13 (1) pp. 55-78. 10.1093/ser/mwu007. Green open access

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Abstract

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.

Type: Article
Title: The size and shape of government: preferences over redistributive tax policy
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1093/ser/mwu007
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ser/mwu007
Language: English
Additional information: This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in the Socio-Economic Review following peer review. The version of record, Barnes, L; (2015) The size and shape of government: preferences over redistributive tax policy. Socio-Economic Review, 13 (1) pp. 55-78, is available online at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ser/mwu007.
Keywords: taxation, redistribution, preferences
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/1493029
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