Me Poor? Then We Need Less Redistribution

In the AEJ: Economic Policy, Christopher Hoy and Franziska Mager report that people are less supportive of redistribution when they learn that they are poorer than they thought.

We test a key assumption underlying seminal theories about preferences for redistribution, which is that relatively poor people should be the most in favor of redistribution. … people who are told they are relatively poorer than they thought are less concerned about inequality and are not more supportive of redistribution. This finding is consistent with people using their own living standard as a “benchmark” for what they consider acceptable for others.