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Forum Post: High American consensus is that Sweden is the best model for wealth distribution

Posted 2 years ago on Jan. 28, 2012, 2:45 a.m. EST by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

PLEASE NOTE: The copy/paste below contains a reference to a PDF that is the basis for it. Here is the original PDF which contains more detailed information.

http://www.people.hbs.edu/mnorton/norton%20ariely%20in%20press.pdf

Study: Most Americans want wealth distribution similar to Sweden

By Daniel Tencer Saturday, September 25, 2010 19:28 EST

92 percent prefer Swedish model to US model when given a choice

Americans generally underestimate the degree of income inequality in the United States, and if given a choice, would distribute wealth in a similar way to the social democracies of Scandinavia, a new study finds.

For decades, polls have shown that a plurality of Americans — around 40 percent — consider themselves conservative, while only around 20 percent self-identify as liberals. But a new study from two noted economists casts doubt on what values lie beneath those political labels.

According to research (PDF) carried out by Michael I. Norton of Harvard Business School and Dan Ariely of Duke University, and flagged by Paul Kedrosky at the Infectious Greed blog, 92 percent of Americans would choose to live in a society with far less income disparity than the US, choosing Sweden’s model over that of the US.

What’s more, the study’s authors say that this applies to people of all income levels and all political leanings: The poor and the rich, Democrats and Republicans are all equally likely to choose the Swedish model.

But the study also found that respondents preferred Sweden’s model over a model of perfect income equality for everyone, “suggesting that Americans prefer some inequality to perfect equality, but not to the degree currently present in the United States,” the authors state.

Recent analyses have shown that income inequality in the US has grown steadily for the past three decades and reached its highest level on record, exceeding even the large disparities seen in the 1920s, before the Great Depression. Norton and Ariely estimate that the one percent wealthiest Americans hold nearly 50 percent of the country’s wealth, while the richest 20 percent hold 84 percent of the wealth.

But in their study, the authors found Americans generally underestimate the income disparity. When asked to estimate, respondents on average estimated that the top 20 percent have 59 percent of the wealth (as opposed to the real number, 84 percent). And when asked to choose how much the top 20 percent should have, on average respondents said 32 percent — a number similar to the wealth distribution seen in Sweden.

“What is most striking” about the results, argue the authors, is that they show “more consensus than disagreement among … different demographic groups. All groups – even the wealthiest respondents – desired a more equal distribution of wealth than what they estimated the current United States level to be, while all groups also desired some inequality – even the poorest respondents.”

The authors suggest the reason that American voters have not made more of an issue of the growing income gap is that they may simply not be aware of it. “Second, just as people have erroneous beliefs about the actual level of wealth inequality, they may also hold overly optimistic beliefs about opportunities for social mobility in the United States, beliefs which in turn may drive support for unequal distributions of wealth,” they write.

The authors also note that, though there may be widespread agreement about income inequality, there is no agreement on what caused it or what should be done about it.

“Americans exhibit a general disconnect between their attitudes towards economic inequality and their self-interest and public policy preferences, suggesting that even given increased awareness of the gap between ideal and actual wealth distributions, Americans may remain unlikely to advocate for policies that would narrow this gap,” the authors argue.

12 Comments

12 Comments


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[-] 1 points by Builder (4202) 2 years ago

Well, you need to share your research, and allow the parameters of that research to be compared.

Do you have some links for us, please?

[-] 1 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

I'm sorry. I'm not quite sure I understand exactly what you're looking for. This post is simply a copy/paste off the Internet that I stumbled upon by accident. It seems pretty obvious to me what it is saying. Are you wanting links to official Swedish statistical data to support the view that 92% of Americans believe the Swedish model is the most equitable in terms of wealth distribution? Did you read the entire post?

[-] 1 points by ARod1993 (2420) 2 years ago

What Builder and I both want is the link to the original research paper behind the article you posted (which was linked as a PDF in the original article) so that we can see and go through that paper at our leisure.

[-] 1 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

I will try to go back to the article and see if it has a linkable PDF and get back with you.

[-] 1 points by Builder (4202) 2 years ago

I read the entire post. I also see unlinked PDF links in the post. Perhaps you would do your readers the honour of linking us up with where your post originated from, and what is the content of those PDF's.

Thanking you in advance for your obviously great research skills.

[-] 1 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

I will try to go back to the article and see if it has a linkable PDF and get back with you.

[-] -1 points by smartcapitalist (143) 2 years ago

You cannot expect similar economic outcomes without having parity in other parameters - population, level of immigration and emigration, quality of immigrants and emigrants, level and type of higher education, major industries, imports, exports, geography and so many other factors. You can simply copy paste and retro fit economic models. So it hardly matters what Americans want. For example, Japan (a country with very little natural resource) might want to live like the oil rich Arabs but that won't be possible because the ground realities are different.

[-] 1 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

Please see link below to another post of mine on Sweden where people brought up the same point and the responses that followed.

http://occupywallst.org/forum/sweden-should-be-our-model/

[-] -1 points by DiogenesTruth (108) 2 years ago

Sweden has 9.5 million people, most highly educated. Insteado of Sweden, pick a coumtry of equal sixe to us. Russia? Pakistan? Indonesia? Mexico? Nigeria?

[-] 1 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

Please see link below to another post of mine on Sweden where people brought up the same point and the responses that followed.

http://occupywallst.org/forum/sweden-should-be-our-model/