“Explaining the Puzzle of Redistribution in the United States: An Institutional Account” with Vivekinan Ashok, Yale

Event time: 
Wednesday, October 12, 2016 - 12:00pm through 1:15pm
Institution for Social and Policy Studies (ISPS), A002
77 Prospect St.
New Haven, CT 06511
Vivekinan Ashok, Yale University
Event description: 


Abstract: Income inequality in the United States has increased in recent decades while public support for redistribution has failed to rise in the same period. These competing trends are often framed as countering a basic expectation in political economy (Meltzer and Richard, 1981). Recent work posits that citizens’ lack of accurate information about inequality explains this empirical puzzle. In this paper, I argue that this explanation is insufficient as preferences for redistribution are contingent on the political process whereby taxes are collected and spent. I present evidence from a novel survey experiment where I manipulate a respondent’s standing in the income distribution as well as the way in which tax revenues are transferred back to households. When transfers are made such that voters understand the consequences to their net income, they state self-interested demands for redistribution. However, this result is quickly diminished with the introduction of the real-world political process.

Speaker: Vivekinan (Vivek) L. Ashok is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Political Science. He is interested in political behavior, quantitative methods, and political economy. His research looks at the effects of information about income inequality on voters’ attitudes and behaviors. In addition to his research, Vivek manages the ISPS Behavioral Research Lab. Vivek has an A.B. in Economics from the University of Chicago and worked as an economic consultant before starting at Yale. From 2013-2014, he was an ISPS Graduate Policy Fellow.

Open to: 
General Public
Event type 
Seminar, Workshop