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Macroeconomic Consequences of Distributional Conflicts

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  • Andreas Schäfer
  • Thomas Steger

Abstract

This paper aims at better understanding the inefficiency due to distributional conflicts, which are inherent in every market economy. To this end, we set up a simple general equilibrium model with the following characteristics: two groups of agents (capitalists and workers), an endogenous income tax, productive government expenditures, social transfers, and an outside option for capital. The political mechanism employed in this paper accounts for the evidence showing that the degree of organization of major interest groups has an impact on political outcomes and, in addition, allows for strategic interaction among major interest groups. We decompose the overall inefficiency into three components: (i) a fundamental time inconsistency problem; (ii) strategic interaction in the political process; (iii) heterogeneity among individuals and the resulting unavoidable conflict of interest. A numerical exercise (based on OECD data) shows that the distributional-conflict inefficiency may cause a substantial output loss of about 7%.

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File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/portal/page/portal/DocBase_Content/WP/WP-CESifo_Working_Papers/wp-cesifo-2007/wp-cesifo-2007-05/cesifo1_wp2007.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2007.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2007

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Keywords: distributional conflict; time inconsistency; strategic interaction; heterogeneity;

References

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  1. Benhabib, Jess & Rustichini, Aldo, 1996. " Social Conflict and Growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 125-42, March.
  2. Bertola, Giuseppe, 1991. "Factor Shares and Savings In Endogenous Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 576, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., . "A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation," Chapters in Economics, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  4. Roberts, Kevin W. S., 1977. "Voting over income tax schedules," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 329-340, December.
  5. Robert J. Barro, 1988. "Government Spending in a Simple Model of Endogenous Growth," NBER Working Papers 2588, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Francesco Caselli, 2004. "Accounting for Cross-Country Income Differences," NBER Working Papers 10828, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. John Hassler & José V. Rodríguez Mora & Kjetil Storesletten & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2001. "The survival of the welfare state," Economics Working Papers 603, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  8. Tyran, Jean-Robert & Sausgruber, Rupert, 2006. "A little fairness may induce a lot of redistribution in democracy," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 469-485, February.
  9. Acemoglu, Daron, 2003. "Why not a political Coase theorem? Social conflict, commitment, and politics," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 620-652, December.
  10. Glomm, Gerhard & Ravikumar, B., 1997. "Productive government expenditures and long-run growth," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 183-204, January.
  11. Romer, Thomas, 1975. "Individual welfare, majority voting, and the properties of a linear income tax," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 163-185, February.
  12. Becker, Gary S, 1983. "A Theory of Competition among Pressure Groups for Political Influence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 98(3), pages 371-400, August.
  13. David Aschauer, 1988. "Is public expenditure productive?," Staff Memoranda 88-7, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  14. Lancaster, Kelvin, 1973. "The Dynamic Inefficiency of Capitalism," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(5), pages 1092-1109, Sept.-Oct.
  15. Francesco Caselli, 2005. "Accounting for cross-country income differences," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 3567, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  16. Fischer, Stanley, 1980. "Dynamic inconsistency, cooperation and the benevolent dissembling government," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 93-107, May.
  17. Meltzer, Allan H & Richard, Scott F, 1981. "A Rational Theory of the Size of Government," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 914-27, October.
  18. Arjan Lejour & Harrie Verbon, 1997. "Tax Competition and Redistribution in a Two-Country Endogenous-Growth Model," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 4(4), pages 485-497, November.
  19. Daron Acemoglu & Georgy Egorov & Konstantin Sonin, 2006. "Coalition Formation in Political Games," NBER Working Papers 12749, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1977. "Rules Rather Than Discretion: The Inconsistency of Optimal Plans," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(3), pages 473-91, June.
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