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Inequality Perceptions, Distributional Norms, and Redistributive Preferences in East and West Germany


Address for correspondence: Andreas Kuhn, Department of Economics, University of Zurich, Mühlebachstrasse 86, 8008 Zurich, Switzerland; Tel.: +41 44 634 37 26; fax: +41 44 634 51 55; e-mail:


This paper analyzes differences in inequality perceptions, distributional norms, and redistributive preferences between East and West Germany. As expected, there are substantial differences with respect to all three of these measures. Surprisingly, however, differences in distributional norms are much smaller than differences with respect to inequality perceptions or redistributive preferences. Moreover, individuals from East Germany tend to be more supportive of state redistribution and progressive taxation and they are less likely to have a conservative political orientation. I finally show that a substantial part of these differences in political preferences can be explained by underlying differences in redistributive preferences.