SURF

Yehuda Donde

Testing the Limits of Equality

I am working in a field of public finance that aims to develop a model indicating the optimal level of redistributive taxation in a given community. Assuming that public preference to redistribute income is determined by some combination of self-interest and civic altruism, the model must take into account the community’s various social, behavioral, and economic attributes. Using surveys, I will be gathering data on the effects of social factors, such as group cohesion, and behavioral factors, such as aversion to risk, on the tax policy decisions of kibbutzim – a network of approximately 300 membership-based socialist communities in Israel. The recent shift of a number of these communities away from high levels of income redistribution provides an excellent opportunity to gain insights regarding the factors governing tax policies in cities and states around the world.

Message to Sponsor

Simply put, SURF has allowed me to do economics, and the process of doing economics - as opposed to simply studying it - has forced me to learn more in the span of a few months than I had in the previous two years. In order to develop precise and relevant conceptual definitions and the means by which to measure them, I've had to become an "amateur expert" on a whole host of topics - from decision theory to factor analysis - that I'd never expected would play a part in my research. Academically, I'm gaining a much deeper understanding of the theoretical underpinnings of my field, and professionally, I'm gaining invaluable experience in developing, organizing, and managing a large survey project and in the techniques of data analysis.
  • Major: Economics
  • Mentor: Shachar Kariv, Economics