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A Distributional Theory of Government Growth

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  • Holger Strulik

    (Institute of Economics, University of Copenhagen)

Abstract

This paper presents a closed form solution for time-consistent taxation and public spending in a dynamic game between government and median voter. Extending Meltzer and Richard’s static analysis of government size the paper offers a theory of growth of government. At low stages of economic development the median voter, identified as a relatively poor worker, prefers to have no or only small redistributive taxation in order to foster savings. Through this channel he expects improvements of his labor productivity and wage. At higher stages of development, however, when capital is relatively abundant and prospects of further labor productivity gains through capital accumulation are smaller, the incentive to tax and redistribute income rises. Yet, in line with previous work on growth and infrastructure spending the median voter prefers a constant share of productive public spending at all times. Hence, government growth is solely driven by an expanding welfare state.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics in its series Discussion Papers with number 04-26.

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Length: 16 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:kud:kuiedp:0426

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Keywords: redistribution; government growth; Markov-perfect equilibrium;

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References

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  1. Roberts, Kevin W. S., 1977. "Voting over income tax schedules," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 329-340, December.
  2. Kemp, Murray C & Long, Ngo Van & Shimomura, Koji, 1993. "Cyclical and Noncyclical Redistributive Taxation," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 34(2), pages 415-29, May.
  3. Bertola, Giuseppe, 1993. "Factor Shares and Savings in Endogenous Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1184-98, December.
  4. Barro, Robert J., 1990. "Government Spending in a Simple Model of Endogeneous Growth," Scholarly Articles 3451296, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  5. Roland Bénabou, 1996. "Inequality and Growth," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1996, Volume 11, pages 11-92 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Islam, Nazrul, 1995. "Growth Empirics: A Panel Data Approach," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(4), pages 1127-70, November.
  7. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1994. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 600-621, June.
  8. repec:chb:bcchwp:03 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. Barro, Robert J & Sala-i-Martin, Xavier, 1992. "Public Finance in Models of Economic Growth," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 59(4), pages 645-61, October.
  10. Paul, Gilles Saint & Verdier, Thierry, 1996. "Inequality, redistribution and growth: A challenge to the conventional political economy approach," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(3-5), pages 719-728, April.
  11. Alesina, Alberto F & Rodrik, Dani, 1991. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 565, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. Grossmann, Volker, 2003. "Income inequality, voting over the size of public consumption, and growth," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 265-287, June.
  13. Branko Milanovic, 2003. "The median voter hypothesis, income inequality and income," HEW 0305001, EconWPA.
  14. Sinn, Hans-Werner, 2002. "Germany's Economic Unification: An Assessment after Ten Years," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 10(1), pages 113-28, February.
  15. John Hassler & José V. Rodríguez Mora & Kjetil Storesletten & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2003. "The Survival of the Welfare State," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 87-112, March.
  16. Brunner, Martin & Strulik, Holger, 2002. "Solution of perfect foresight saddlepoint problems: a simple method and applications," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 26(5), pages 737-753, May.
  17. Kevin J. Lansing, 1998. "Optimal redistributive capital taxation in a neoclassical growth model," Working Papers in Applied Economic Theory 99-01, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  18. Judd, Kenneth L., 1985. "Redistributive taxation in a simple perfect foresight model," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 59-83, October.
  19. Caselli, Francesco & Esquivel, Gerardo & Lefort, Fernando, 1996. " Reopening the Convergence Debate: A New Look at Cross-Country Growth Empirics," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 1(3), pages 363-89, September.
  20. Hongyi Li & Lyn Squire & Heng-fu Zou, 1998. "Explaining International and Intertemporal Variations in Income Inequality," CEMA Working Papers 73, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
  21. Krusell, Per & Quadrini, Vincenzo & Rios-Rull, Jose-Victor, 1997. "Politico-economic equilibrium and economic growth," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 243-272, January.
  22. Holger Strulik, 2002. "Fiscal Policy Reforms in a Global Economy," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 9(1), pages 73-91, January.
  23. 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.
  24. Roland Benabou, 2000. "Unequal Societies: Income Distribution and the Social Contract," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 96-129, March.
  25. Krusell, Per, 2002. "Time-consistent redistribution," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(4-5), pages 755-769, May.
  26. Chamley, Christophe, 1986. "Optimal Taxation of Capital Income in General Equilibrium with Infinite Lives," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(3), pages 607-22, May.
  27. Husted, Thomas A & Kenny, Lawrence W, 1997. "The Effect of the Expansion of the Voting Franchise on the Size of Government," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(1), pages 54-82, February.
  28. Deininger, Klaus & Squire, Lyn, 1998. "New ways of looking at old issues: inequality and growth," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 259-287.
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Cited by:
  1. Jorge Martinez-Vazquez & Blanca Moreno-Dodson & VIoleta Vulovic, 2012. "The Impact of Tax and Expenditure Policies on Income Distribution: Evidence from a Large Panel of Countries," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper1225, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
  2. Holger Stichnoth, 2012. "Does immigration weaken natives’ support for the unemployed? Evidence from Germany," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 151(3), pages 631-654, June.
  3. Andreas Georgiadis & Alan Manning, 2007. "Spend It Like Beckham? Inequality and Redistribution in the UK, 1983-2004," CEP Discussion Papers dp0816, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.

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