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Social Mobility and the Demand for Redistribution: The POUM Hypothesis

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  • Benabou, R.
  • Ok, E.A.

Abstract

Even people with income below average will not support high rates of redistribution, because of the prospect of upward mobility: they take into account the fact the they, or their children, may move up in the income distribution, and therefore be hurt by high tax rates. This "intuitive" hypothesis is commonly advanced as part of the explanation for why democracies, where a relatively poor majority holds the political power, do not engage in large-scale expropriation and redistribution. But does it make sense, or does it require that some of the poor overemphasize the prospects of good outcomes relative to bad ones, due either to irrationally optimistic expectations or to a form of risk-loving?

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File URL: http://econ.as.nyu.edu/docs/IO/9381/RR98-23.PDF
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University in its series Working Papers with number 98-23.

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Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: 1998
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cvs:starer:98-23

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Postal: C.V. Starr Center, Department of Economics, New York University, 19 W. 4th Street, 6th Floor, New York, NY 10012
Phone: (212) 998-8936
Fax: (212) 995-3932
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Web page: http://econ.as.nyu.edu/object/econ.cvstarr.html
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Postal: C.V. Starr Center, Department of Economics, New York University, 19 W. 4th Street, 6th Floor, New York, NY 10012
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Keywords: INCOME DISTRIBUTION ; POLITICAL ECONOMY ; TAXATION ; SOCIAL MOBILITY;

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References

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  1. Hirschman, Albert O., 1973. "The changing tolerance for income inequality in the course of economic development," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 1(12), pages 29-36, December.
  2. 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.
  3. Zimmerman, David J, 1992. "Regression toward Mediocrity in Economic Stature," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 409-29, June.
  4. Gourinchas, Pierre-Olivier & Parker, Jonathan A, 2000. "Consumption Over the Life-Cycle," CEPR Discussion Papers 2345, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Solon, Gary, 1992. "Intergenerational Income Mobility in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 393-408, June.
  6. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1991. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth? Theory and Evidence," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt00x7n68q, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  7. Alesina, Alberto F & Rodrik, Dani, 1991. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 565, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Bénabou, Roland & Ok, Efe A, 1998. "Social Mobility and the Demand for Redistribution: the POUM Hypothesis," CEPR Discussion Papers 1955, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Hungerford, Thomas L, 1993. "U.S. Income Mobility in the Seventies and Eighties," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 39(4), pages 403-17, December.
  10. Roland Benabou, 2000. "Unequal Societies: Income Distribution and the Social Contract," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 96-129, March.
  11. Roemer, J.E., 1995. "Why the Poor Do not Expropriate the Rich in Democracies: A New Argument," Papers 95-04, California Davis - Institute of Governmental Affairs.
  12. Sam Peltzman, 1980. "The Growth of Government," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 1, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  13. Shorrocks, A F, 1978. "The Measurement of Mobility," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(5), pages 1013-24, September.
  14. Marhuenda, Francisco & Ortuno-Ortin, Ignacio, 1995. "Popular support for progressive taxation," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 48(3-4), pages 319-324, June.
  15. Dardanoni Valentino, 1993. "Measuring Social Mobility," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 372-394, December.
  16. repec:att:wimass:9329 is not listed on IDEAS
  17. Thomas Piketty, 1994. "Social Mobility and Redistributive Politics," Working papers 94-15, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
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