Perceived Distributive Fairness of European Transfer Payments and EU-Taxes in Austria, the Czech Republic, and the United Kingdom


  • We thank the participants of the interdisciplinary PhD course “Economic Psychological-Research at the Universities of Cologne and Vienna” in January 2009 in Cologne, Germany, for their valuable remarks on an earlier version of this paper and Marco Lüftenegger for his help regarding the multiple imputation technique. This study was financed by a grant to Erich Kirchler from the Austrian Science Fund (FWF), project number AP1992511.

Erich Kirchler, Faculty of Psychology, University of Vienna, Universitaetsstrasse 7, A-1010 Vienna, Austria. Email:


The present research compared a distributive fairness model of EU transfer payments (Hartner, Rechberger, Kirchler, & Wenzel, 2011) between three countries: Austria, the Czech Republic, and the UK. The model postulates an interplay between EU-tax compliance, distributive fairness, outcome favorability as well as national and European identification. Results across countries showed that EU-tax compliance was positively related to distributive justice, which was in turn related to outcome favorability and identification. National identifiers perceived EU membership as unfavorable in financial and socio-political terms, and thus considered the transfer payments as less fair. Dual identifiers perceived the socio-political outcomes as more favorable, and thus evaluated the transfer payments as fairer. Although the basic structure of the model was valid across all three countries, two country-specific results were found. First, in the UK individual tax paying behavior was influenced by outcome favorability, whereas in Austria and the Czech Republic this relationship was mediated via distributive fairness. Second, in the Austrian sample, the differentiation between patriots and nationalists proved fruitful since nationalists considered the EU transfer payments as unfair, unlike patriots. In the UK and the Czech Republic the distinction between nationalists and patriots did not add any further information.