We wanted to know more so we decided to have a chat with Ingvild Almås.

Can you summarize what your paper is about?

The paper is on support for redistribution. We show that the source of inequality matters for how much inequality people accept. If inequality is due to productivity differences, people accept substantially more inequality than if inequality is due to differences in luck. This effect is large relative to efficiency concerns: a cost of redistribution does not increase inequality acceptance significantly for most groups in the society and for those that we see an effect this is much smaller than the effect from going from luck as a source of inequality to productivity as a source. We further show that there are both differences and similarities in the comparison between representative samples in the United States and Norway: there are more egalitarian people in Norway (egalitarians tend to find all inequalities unfair), there are more libertarians in the United States (libertarians tend to find all inequalities fair). There are equally many meritocrats in the two countries (meritocrats find inequalities due to productivity differences fair, but all other inequalities unfair). The lack of sensitivity to a cost of redistribution is the same in the two countries.

What are the most important lessons policy makers can learn from your paper?

Fairness concerns are important in order to explain the support for redistribution policies. If redistribution is seen as increasing fairness, the support will be substantially larger than if not.

Are you continuing research in the same area or will you move on to completely different projects?

Yes, we continue the research in this area, we have now conducted a study in 60 countries with many of the same elements as that of this paper (and some additional elements).