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Community and class antagonism

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  • Dasgupta, Indraneel
  • Kanbur, Ravi

Abstract

We investigate how vertical unity within a community interacts with horizontal class divisions of an unequal income distribution. Community is conceptualized in terms of a public good to which all those in the community have equal access, but from which outsiders are excluded. We formulate the idea of redistributive tension, or class antagonism, in terms of the costs that poorer individuals would be willing to impose on the rich, to achieve a given gain in personal income. Our conclusion is that the nominal distribution of income could give a misleading picture of tensions in society, both within and across communities. Ideologies of community solidarity may well trump those of class solidarity because of the implicit sharing of community resources brought about by community-specific public goods. Greater economic mobility of particular types may actually exacerbate class tensions instead of attenuating them. We illustrate our theoretical results with a discussion of a number of historical episodes of shifting class tensions and alliances.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

Volume (Year): 91 (2007)
Issue (Month): 9 (September)
Pages: 1816-1842

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Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:91:y:2007:i:9:p:1816-1842

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

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  2. La Ferrara, Eliana & Alesina, Alberto, 2000. "Participation in Heterogeneous Communities," Scholarly Articles 4551796, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  3. Indraneel Dasgupta & Ravi Kanbur, 2006. "Should Egalitarians Expropriate Philanthropists?," CEDI Discussion Paper Series 06-11, Centre for Economic Development and Institutions(CEDI), Brunel University.
  4. E. Somanathan, 2002. "Can Growth Ease Class Conflict?," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 14(1), pages 65-81.
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  9. Dasgupta, Indraneel & Kanbur, Ravi, 2003. "Community And Anti-Poverty Targeting," Working Papers 127774, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
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  16. Robert Breunig & Indraneel Dasgupta, 2005. "Do Intra-Household Effects Generate the Food Stamp Cash-Out Puzzle?," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 87(3), pages 552-568.
  17. Breunig & R. & Dasgupta, I., 1999. "Are People Ashamed of Paying with Food Stamps?," Papers 382, Australian National University - Department of Economics.
  18. Lancaster, Kelvin, 1973. "The Dynamic Inefficiency of Capitalism," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(5), pages 1092-1109, Sept.-Oct.
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  22. Roemer, John E., 1998. "Why the poor do not expropriate the rich: an old argument in new garb," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(3), pages 399-424, December.
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