Moral sentiments, democracy and redistributive politics: between nature and culture
AbstractAccording to the standard economic approach, the level of redistribution in a democratic society is growing with the inequality of the income distribution. However, data do not support such a finding. In this article, we assert that the canonical model fails first in its basic assumption, the fundamental selfish nature of human beings. Following Adam Smith as well as modern cognitive sciences, we then suppose that a moral instinct coexists with a selfish one. It follows that democracy, based on an unanimous agreement and not on a majority of voters as in the standard approach, can be characterized by two different cultures. In the first one, in the spirit of Locke, individual property comes before the government. In such a culture, we show that a growing difference between median and mean incomes is not necessarely associated with a higher redistribution. In the second culture, in the spirit of Rousseau, the general will comes before particular interests. As a result, we find that in such a culture an increase of the top incomes can reduce the redistribution.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2007 Meeting Papers with number 702.
Date of creation: 2007
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Other versions of this item:
- Gilles Le Garrec, 2007. "Moral sentiments, democracy and redistributive politics : between nature and culture," Sciences Po publications 2007-09, Sciences Po.
- Gilles Le Garrec, 2007. "Moral sentiments, democracy and redistributive politics: between nature and culture," Documents de Travail de l'OFCE 2007-09, Observatoire Francais des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE).
- H53 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Welfare Programs
- D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
- D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy
- D87 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Neuroeconomics
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