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"Quantitative and Qualitative Economics on Attitudes and Tax Preferences Towards the Top 1 Percent"

Abstract : 

We study the effects of providing quantitative and qualitative information about top earners on people’s attitudes and tax preferences towards the richest 1 percent. We conduct an online experiment with 2000 French respondents assigned randomly to quantitative information on the income levels of the top 1 percent and their respective income sources (capital vs. labor) ; or to quantitative information, plus qualitative egalitarian descriptions, on the consequences of inequality and high capital income shares at the top. We find that : (i) respondents overestimate the income of the richest 1 percent and want them to pay a higher income tax rate than the current one. (ii) Quantitative information shifts attitudes about top earners towards the unfavorable spectrum, but it has no effect on the desired income tax rate at the top. The effect on attitudes comes mainly from information on income sources. (iii) Quantitative plus qualitative information leads respondents to choose a higher income tax rate for the richest 1 percent. The effect comes mainly from the qualitative information on the consequences of inequality.