“Fair Enough? Fairness Reasoning and Demand for Redistribution” in Jonas Pontusson and Noam Lupu (eds.) Unequal Democracies. Cambridge University Press.
Fairness concerns are ubiquitous in the realm of redistributive politics. Yet it is not easy to pinpoint what fairness is and what a positive analysis of fairness might look like. This chapter builds on research across the social sciences to provide a parsimonious approach to the study of fairness “in action.” In Western democracies, I argue, reasoning about the fairness of redistributive social policies implies two types of fairness evaluation: (1) how fair is it for some to make (a lot) more money than others in the marketplace, (2) how fair is it for some to receive more in benefits than they pay in taxes? Each question calls to mind a different norm of fairness: the proportionality norm, which prescribes that individual rewards be proportional to effort and talent, and the reciprocity norm, which prescribes that co- operative behavior be rewarded more than uncooperative behavior. Agreement with these two norms is quasi-universal. Where people differ is in their beliefs about the prevalence of norm-violating outcomes and behaviors, i.e. the extent to which what is deviates from what ought to be. These fairness beliefs provide individuals with a proto-ideology through which to interpret the world and pick policies that increase the fairness of the status quo. Accounting for the nature and empirical manifestations of fairness reasoning provides a new understanding of the demand side of redistributive politics in times of rising in equality.
“Immigration and Support for Redistribution: Lessons from Europe” (with Karine Van der Straeten). Gerald Jaynes (ed.) Journal of Economic Literature. Available here.
Research shows that opposition to policies that redistribute across racial divides has affected the development of the American welfare state. Are similar dynamics at play in Western Europe? For many scholars, the answer is yes. In this review essay, we argue that, despite decades of research on the topic, researchers still have an incomplete understanding of the relationship between mass immigration and the politics of welfare state reform in Western European countries. First, existing evidence is inconsistent with the assumption —ubiquitous in this line of research— of a universal distaste for sharing resources with people who are culturally, ethnically and racially different. Second, important historical and institutional differences between the US and Europe preclude any straightforward transposition of the American experience to the European case. We discuss what we see as the most promising lines of inquiry going forward.