Using new data from a three-wave panel survey administered in Germany between May 2020 and May 2021, this paper studies the impact of a negative shock affecting all strata of the population, such as the development of COVID-19, on preferences for redistribution. Exploiting the plausibly exogenous change in the severity of the infection rate at the county level, we show that, contrary to some theoretical expectations, the worse the crisis, the less our respondents expressed support for redistribution. We provide further evidence that this is not driven by a decrease in inequality aversion but might be driven by the individuals’ level of trust.
The data that support the findings of this study are (will be) accessible via the data archive of GESIS—The Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences at https://data.gesis.org/sharing/#!Search/?partner=exzclu.
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Open access funding provided by Università degli Studi di Pavia within the CRUI-CARE Agreement. This project is funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG - German Research Foundation) under Germany’s Excellence Strategy-EXC-2035/1 – 390681379, as well as a financial contribution from the Italian Ministry of University and Research PRIN 2017K8ANN4 “New approaches to political economy: from methods to data” is gratefully acknowledged.
The paper raises no ethical issues. The survey received an ethical waiver from the Ethics Committee (Institutional Review Board, IRB) of the University of Konstanz, RefNo: IRB20KN09-006.
Conflict of interest
The author declares that he has no conflict of interest.
We thank the editor and three anonymous referees for insightful comments and suggestions that greatly improved the paper. We are grateful to Thomas Wöhler for coordinating the data collection. We would like to thank Martin Wessel and Moritz Seebacher for their excellent research assistance. This project is funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG - German Research Foundation) under Germany’s Excellence Strategy-EXC-2035/1 – 390681379, as well as a financial contribution from the Italian Ministry of University and Research PRIN 2017K8ANN4 "New approaches to political economy: from methods to data" is gratefully acknowledged. Usual disclaimers apply.
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Appendix: The survey
Appendix: The survey
To gain a better understanding of how people in Germany cope with the social and political effects of the COVID-19 crisis, a group of researchers at the “The Politics of Inequality" cluster of excellence at the University of Konstanz initiated a multifaceted survey program. One of the authors of this paper is a member of this group. The issues covered in this program are diverse. A total of 18 Cluster researchers from various disciplines are involved in this project, which brings together the Cluster’s research areas and disciplines. The program is coordinated by the Methods Hub, a central institution that provides Cluster researchers with method skills and practical support. The data are collected by the University of Konstanz survey-LAB.
The online surveys were implemented in three waves. A first wave was collected during April- June 2020, with over 8,000 participants. The second wave of 7,000 interviews was collected in October-November 2020 and features a panel setting. In May 2021, we conducted a third survey wave with more than 6,000 participants. The Kantar panel (a permanent group of respondents) was used for topics that required a particularly representative sample of the population, like the one in this paper. The Respondi panel was used for other research questions that rely on a large number of cases. Based on the Open Data strategy, the data collected as part of this survey program are free to use for scientific purposes after a short embargo. They are (will be) accessible via the data archive of GESIS—The Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences at https://data.gesis.org/sharing/#!Search/?partner=exzclu.
Comprehensive information on the survey program, descriptions of the topic-oriented modules and their results, and complete information on methods and the underlying data are available on https://www.exc.uni-konstanz.de/en/inequality/research/covid-19-and-inequality-surveys-program/. An English translation of the three questionnaires for the Kantar panel used in this paper is available at https://www.exc.uni-konstanz.de/en/inequality/research/covid-19-and-inequality-surveys-program/documentation/.
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Luna, B., Andrea, F. & Francesco, S. Collective negative shocks and preferences for redistribution: Evidence from the COVID-19 crisis in Germany. J Econ Inequal (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10888-022-09558-2
- Preference for redistribution
- Inequality aversion