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Income inequality and self-reported values


What is the relationship between income inequality and the values people endorse? Using survey data from all thirty-four OECD countries over a period of almost thirty years, we investigate the following dimensions of value systems: work ethic, civism, obedience, honesty, altruism, and tolerance. In most cases, no robust relation to income inequality is detected. However, we find some evidence that larger income disparities are associated with a stronger work ethic. This suggests that income inequality might spur hard work not only through pecuniary incentives but also because it makes people attach a symbolic value to being laborious.

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Correspondence to Giacomo Corneo.

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Corneo, G., Neher, F. Income inequality and self-reported values. J Econ Inequal 12, 49–71 (2014).

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  • Income inequality
  • Value systems

JEL Classification

  • D63
  • O15
  • O57
  • Z1