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Who wants wealth taxes?

MWP February Lecture

Add to calendar 2024-02-07 17:00 2024-02-07 18:30 Europe/Rome Who wants wealth taxes? Refectory Badia Fiesolana YYYY-MM-DD


07 February 2024

17:00 - 18:30 CET



Badia Fiesolana

The Max Weber Programme hosts its February Lecture with Professor Ben Ansell (University of Oxford, Nuffield College).

'Who Wants Wealth Taxes?' (joint work with Mads Elkjaer, Laure Bokobza, Asli Cansunar, Matthias Haslberger, and Jacob Nyrup)

Despite persistently high levels of wealth inequality across advanced democracies, inheritance tax rates have declined in recent decades and net wealth taxes largely remain theoretical. We argue that taxing inherited wealth is politically difficult because, paradoxically, the people who have the strongest material interest in higher inheritance taxation are those least likely to express an opinion. Instead, the political terrain is shaped by the preferences of homeowners, and their children, who have a strong material interest in lower inheritance taxes. Empirically, we evaluate this argument using original survey data from the United Kingdom and Europe. In two survey experiments, we then examine how exposure to information influences views on wealth taxation. While we find no effect of providing information about the distribution of housing wealth, preferences are influenced by primes that highlight either the participants’ material interest or frame the tax critically as death or double taxation.

About the speaker:

Ben Ansell is Professor of Comparative Democratic Institutions in the Department of Politics and International Relations and Professorial Fellow, Nuffield College. He received his PhD in Government from Harvard University in 2006 and conducts research in a wide area of comparative politics and political economy. Before joining Oxford and Nuffield College he was an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Minnesota.

His initial research focus was the politics of education, with his book From the Ballot to the Blackboard: The Redistributive Politics of Education, published by Cambridge University Press in 2010 and winning the William H. Riker prize for best book in political economy. His second book, Inequality and Democratization: An Elite-Competition Approach, co-authored with David Samuels and published by Cambridge University Press in 2014 won the Woodrow Wilson APSA Best Book Prize and the William H. Riker best book in political economy prize. His third book, co-authored with Johannes Lindvall, Inward Conquest: The Political Origins of Public Services, was published in 2021 by Cambridge University Press. His work has been published in International Organization, Journal of Politics, World Politics, Comparative Political Studies, West European Politics, and the American Political Science Review.

From September 2013, together with David Samuels at the University of Minnesota, he has been co-editor of Comparative Political Studies. He is Principal Investigator of the European Research Council funded project WEALTHPOL and is a Fellow of the British Academy.

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