Are People Inequality-Averse, or Just Risk-Averse?

Peer Reviewed
1 January 2005

Individuals’ preferences for risk and inequality are measured through choices between imagined societies and lotteries.

The median relative risk aversion, which is often seen to reflect social inequality aversion, is between 2 and 3. Most people are also found to be individually inequality-averse, reflecting a willingness to pay for living in a more equal society. Left-wing voters and women are both more risk and inequality-averse than others. The model allows for non-monotonic SWFs, implying that welfare may decrease with an individual’s income at high-income levels, which is illustrated in simulations based on the empirical results.


Dinky Daruvala


Sustainable Development Goals

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Publication | 1 August 2005