The Journal of Economic Inequality

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 49–71 | Cite as

Income inequality and self-reported values

  • Giacomo Corneo
  • Frank Neher


What is the relationship between income inequality and the values people endorse? Using survey data from all thirty-four OECD countries over a period of almost thirty years, we investigate the following dimensions of value systems: work ethic, civism, obedience, honesty, altruism, and tolerance. In most cases, no robust relation to income inequality is detected. However, we find some evidence that larger income disparities are associated with a stronger work ethic. This suggests that income inequality might spur hard work not only through pecuniary incentives but also because it makes people attach a symbolic value to being laborious.


Income inequality Value systems 

JEL Classification

D63 O15 O57 Z1 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Free University of BerlinBerlinGermany
  2. 2.CEPRLondonUK
  3. 3.CESifoMunichGermany
  4. 4.IMKDüsseldorfGermany
  5. 5.IZABonnGermany

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