The distributional preferences of Americans, 2013–2016

Raymond Fisman, Pamela Jakiela, Shachar Kariv*, Silvia Vannutelli

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


We study the distributional preferences of Americans during 2013–2016, a period of social and economic upheaval. We decompose preferences into two qualitatively different tradeoffs—fair-mindedness versus self-interest, and equality versus efficiency—and measure both at the individual level in a large and diverse sample. Although Americans are heterogeneous in terms of both fair-mindedness and equality-efficiency orientation, we find that the individual-level preferences in 2013 are highly predictive of those in 2016. Subjects that experienced an increase in household income became more self-interested, and those who voted for Democratic presidential candidates in both 2012 and 2016 became more equality-oriented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalExperimental Economics
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • American life panel (ALP)
  • Distributional preferences
  • Efficiency
  • Equality
  • Experiment
  • Fairness
  • Household income
  • Impartiality
  • Political decisions
  • Rationality
  • Redistribution
  • Revealed preference
  • Social preferences
  • Voting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)


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