Inequality and Fairness
Personal responsibility can bring new insights on the inequality debate
In this talk, Bertil Tungodden surveys recent evidence on how fairness concerns motivate distributive behaviour, in particular the moral idea of personal responsibility. He also presents recent results of a comparison of the fairness preferences in the United States and Scandinavia. There is in fact a striking difference in income inequality and redistributive policies between the United States and Scandinavia. To study whether there is a corresponding cross-country difference in social preferences, Bertil Tungodden conducted the first large-scale international social preference experiment, with nationally representative samples from the United States and Norway. The results show that Americans and Norwegians differ significantly in fairness views, but not in the importance assigned to efficiency. The study also provides robust causal evidence of fairness considerations being much more fundamental for inequality acceptance than efficiency considerations in both countries.