NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Ricardo Rodríguez-Padilla

Harvard University

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Institutional Affiliation: Harvard University

NBER Working Papers and Publications

July 2020Moral Universalism and the Structure of Ideology
with Benjamin Enke, Florian Zimmermann: w27511
Throughout the Western world, people's policy views are correlated across domains in a strikingly similar fashion. This paper proposes that what partly explains the structure of ideology is moral universalism: the extent to which people's altruism and trust remain constant as social distance increases. In new large-scale multinational surveys, heterogeneity in universalism descriptively explains why the left and right both simultaneously support and oppose different types of government spending. Moreover, the left-right divide on topics such as redistribution strongly depends on whether people evaluate more or less universalist policies. Large-scale donation data provide additional evidence for the political left's universalism.
 
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