Article | Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy | Forthcoming

The Not-So-Common-Wealth of Australia: Evidence for a Cross-Cultural Desire for a More Equal Distribution of Wealth.

by Michael I. Norton, David T. Neal, Cassandra L. Govan, Dan Ariely and Elise Holland

Abstract

Recent evidence suggests that Americans underestimate wealth inequality in the United States and favor a more equal wealth distribution (Norton & Ariely, 2011). Does this pattern reflect ideological dynamics unique to the United States, or is the phenomenon evident in other developed economies—such as Australia? We assessed Australians' perceived and ideal wealth distributions and compared them to the actual wealth distribution. Although the United States and Australia differ in the degree of actual wealth inequality and in cultural narratives around economic mobility, the Australian data closely replicated the United States findings. Misperceptions of wealth inequality as well as preferences for more equal distributions may be common across developed economies. In addition, beliefs about wealth distribution only weakly predicted support for raising the minimum wage, suggesting that attitudes toward inequality may not translate into preferences for redistributive policies.

Keywords: Wealth; Equality and Inequality; Australia; United States;

Citation:

Norton, Michael I., David T. Neal, Cassandra L. Govan, Dan Ariely, and Elise Holland. "The Not-So-Common-Wealth of Australia: Evidence for a Cross-Cultural Desire for a More Equal Distribution of Wealth." Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy (forthcoming).