People who believe that their society has few impediments to upward mobility tend to oppose governmental redistribution. This is true even among the poor. Is this because people with this belief expect to be well off in the future, and hence oppose redistribution on self-interested gounds? Or is it because they believe that the less well off have not made the effort to move up, and therefore are morally undeserving of support? This paper uses quantitative sensitivity analysis to examine the robustness of the evidence for each of these views. It finds that the effect of prospective mobility is sensitive to measurement error in current income. In contrast, there is robust support for the view that beliefs about moral worthiness matter.
Fong, C. (2006). Prospective mobility, fairness, and the demand for redistribution. Working paper, Carnegie Mellon University.