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Inequality, redistribution and the allocation of public spending in education. A political-economy approach

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  • Di Gioacchino, Debora
  • Ginebri, Sergio

    ()

  • Sabani, Laura

Abstract

The incidence of public expenditure in education appears to be skewed in favour of the middle and upper classes. This paper inquires into the determinants of this bias using a political economy approach. We develop a model with two time periods with an election occurring between the two. In the first period, agents differ in their initial wealth. In the second period, differences in wealth are combined with differences in income. In the first period, the incumbent government issues debt to finance public spending in education and decides how to allocate available resources between primary and tertiary education. Both increase aggregate income, but while investment in primary education reduces income inequality, investment in tertiary education increases it. At the beginning of the second period, a two-party electoral competition is held and probabilistic voting decides the winner. By varying the parameters of the linear income tax, the elected policy-maker can redistribute resources between low and high income individuals, while by choosing a debt default rate she can renege on the promise to fully repay public obligations, redistributing resources from bond-holders to tax-payers. We show that the investment in primary education might not be (politically) viable. Intuitively, investment in primary education, by reducing income inequality with respect to wealth inequality, might increase the desired debt default rate of future policy makers, making issuing debt to finance primary education unfeasible.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Molise, Dept. EGSeI in its series Economics & Statistics Discussion Papers with number esdp05024.

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Length: 22 pages
Date of creation: 27 May 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mol:ecsdps:esdp05024

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Keywords: policy choices in representative democracies; public investment in education; redistribution; government debt repayment.;

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  1. Roland Benabou, 2000. "Unequal Societies: Income Distribution and the Social Contract," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 96-129, March.
  2. Roland Benabou, 1996. "Inequality and Growth," NBER Working Papers 5658, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Mariacristina Nardi, 2004. "Wealth Inequality and Intergenerational Links," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 71, pages 743-768, 07.
  4. Gianni De Fraja, 2004. "Education and Redistribution," Rivista di Politica Economica, SIPI Spa, vol. 94(3), pages 3-44, May-June.
  5. Tim Besley & Stephen Coate, . ""An Economic Model of Representative Democracy''," CARESS Working Papres 95-02, University of Pennsylvania Center for Analytic Research and Economics in the Social Sciences.
  6. Besley, Timothy J. & Coate, Stephen, 2001. "Issue Unbundling via Citizens' initiatives," CEPR Discussion Papers 2857, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 1998. "Sources of Inefficiency in a Representative Democracy: A Dynamic Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 139-56, March.
  8. Debora Di Gioacchino & Sergio Ginebri & Laura Sabani, 2004. "Political support for anti-inflationary monetary policy," International Journal of Finance & Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 9(2), pages 187-200.
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Cited by:
  1. Radhika Lahiri & Elisabetta Magnani, 2008. "On inequality and the allocation of public spending," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 5(9), pages 1-8.
  2. repec:ebl:ecbull:v:5:y:2008:i:9:p:1-8 is not listed on IDEAS

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