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The Progressivity of Equalization Payments in Federations

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  • GRAVEL, Nicolas
  • POITEVIN, Michel

Abstract

We investigate the conditions under which an inequality averse and additively separable welfarist constitution maker would always choose to set up a progressive equalization payments scheme in a federation with local public goods. A progressive equalization payments scheme is defined as a list of per capita net (possibly negative) subsidies - one such net subsidy for every jurisdiction - that are decreasing with respect to jurisdictions per capita wealth. We examine these questions in a setting in which the case for progressivity is a priori the strongest, namely, all citizens have the same utility function for the private and the public goods, inhabitants of a given jurisdiction are all identical, and they are not able to move across jurisdictions. We show that the constitution maker favors a progressive equalization payments scheme for all distributions of wealth and all population sizes if and only if its objective function is additively separable between each jurisdiction’s per capita wealth and number of inhabitants. When interpreted as a mean of order r social welfare function, this condition is shown to be equivalent to additive separability of the individual’s indirect utility function with respect to wealth and the price of the public good. Some implications of this restriction to the case where the individual’s direct utility function is additively separable are also derived.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques in its series Cahiers de recherche with number 2004-12.

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Length: 24 pages
Date of creation: 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mtl:montde:2004-12

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  1. Wallace E. Oates, 1999. "An Essay on Fiscal Federalism," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(3), pages 1120-1149, September.
  2. Moyes, Patrick, 1987. "A new concept of Lorenz domination," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 203-207.
  3. Eichhorn, Wolfgang & Funke, Helmut & Richter, Wolfram F., 1984. "Tax progression and inequality of income distribution," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 127-131, October.
  4. Atkinson, Anthony B., 1970. "On the measurement of inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 244-263, September.
  5. Atkinson, Anthony B & Bourguignon, Francois, 1982. "The Comparison of Multi-Dimensioned Distributions of Economic Status," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(2), pages 183-201, April.
  6. Buhl, Hans Ulrich & Pfingsten, Andreas, 1990. "On the distribution of public funds," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 363-376, December.
  7. Robin W. Boadway & Frank R. Flatters, 1982. "Efficiency and Equalization Payments in a Federal System of Government: A Synthesis and Extension of Recent Results," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 15(4), pages 613-33, November.
  8. Sen, Amartya, 1973. "On Economic Inequality," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198281931, September.
  9. Kolm, Serge-Christophe, 1976. "Unequal inequalities. I," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 416-442, June.
  10. Blackorby, Charles & Donaldson, David, 1982. "Ratio-Scale and Translation-Scale Full Interpersonal Comparability without Domain Restrictions: Admissible Social-Evaluation Functions," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 23(2), pages 249-68, June.
  11. Moyes Patrick, 1994. "Inequality Reducing and Inequality Preserving Transformations of Incomes: Symmetric and Individualistic Transformations," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 271-298, August.
  12. Flatters, Frank & Henderson, Vernon & Mieszkowski, Peter, 1974. "Public goods, efficiency, and regional fiscal equalization," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 99-112, May.
  13. Kolm, Serge-Christophe, 1976. "Unequal inequalities. II," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 82-111, August.
  14. Jakobsson, Ulf, 1976. "On the measurement of the degree of progression," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(1-2), pages 161-168.
  15. Thon, Dominique, 1987. "Redistributive properties of progressive taxation," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 185-191, October.
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Cited by:
  1. Rongili Biswas & Nicolas Gravel & Rémy Oddou, 2008. "On the Segregative Properties of Endogenous Jurisdiction Formation with a Central Government," IDEP Working Papers 0802, Institut d'economie publique (IDEP), Marseille, France, revised 05 2008.
  2. Benoît Tarroux, 2012. "Are equalization payments making Canadians better off? A two-dimensional dominance answer," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 10(1), pages 19-44, March.
  3. Biswas, Rongili & Gravel, Nicolas & Oddou, Rémy, 2009. "The segregative properties of endogenous jurisdictions formation with a welfarist central government," POLIS Working Papers 121, Institute of Public Policy and Public Choice - POLIS.
  4. Rongili Biswas & Nicolas Gravel & Rémy Oddou, 2013. "The segregative properties of endogenous formation of jurisdictions with a welfarist central government," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 41(2), pages 293-319, July.

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