Why Do Voters Demand Universal Government Benefits?
AbstractUniversal social benefits seem to contradict important notions in economics. They are poorly targeted and must be paid for by what seem to be high taxes. This paper describes the costs of universality and then proposes two competing explanations for why an electorate might wish to pay these costs. It may be harder to identify the poor through targeted social programs than to simply give everyone social benefits and withdraw part of these benefits through the tax system. Or, universality may be a form of political insurance that protects any one group of voters from being exploited by others. Each conjecture leads to different predictions about the manner in which government benefits will vary with the incomes of the recipients. I use a model of tax and spending incidence for Canada in 1990 to see which conjecture helps best to understand the data. I find mixed evidence in favor of the notion that universality is a form of political insurance.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by EconWPA in its series Public Economics with number 0503009.
Length: 26 pages
Date of creation: 30 Mar 2005
Date of revision:
Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 26
Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://22.214.171.124
fiscal churning; political efficiency; transfers; Canada;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- D6 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics
- D7 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making
- H - Public Economics
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2005-04-16 (All new papers)
- NEP-CDM-2005-04-16 (Collective Decision-Making)
- NEP-POL-2005-04-16 (Positive Political Economics)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Peltzman, Sam, 1992. "Voters as Fiscal Conservatives," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(2), pages 327-61, May.
- Alberto Alesina & Guido Tabellini, 1988.
"Voting on the Budget Deficit,"
NBER Working Papers
2759, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Tabellini, Guido & Alesina, Alberto, 1990. "Voting on the Budget Deficit," Scholarly Articles 4553030, Harvard University Department of Economics.
- Alesina, Alberto F & Tabellini, Guido, 1988. "Voting on the Budget Deficit," CEPR Discussion Papers 269, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Guido Tabellini & Alberto Alesina, 1988. "Voting on the Budget Deficit," UCLA Economics Working Papers 539, UCLA Department of Economics.
- Ludger Schuknecht & Vito Tanzi, 1995. "The Growth of Government and the Reform of the State in Industrial Countries," IMF Working Papers 95/130, International Monetary Fund.
- Piggott, John & Whalley, John, 1987. "Interpreting Net Fiscal Incidence Calculations," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 69(4), pages 685-94, November.
- Dodge, David A, 1975. "Impact of Tax, Transfer and Expenditure Policies of Government on the Distribution of Personal Income in Canada," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 21(1), pages 1-52, March.
- Aaron, Henry & McGuire, Martin, 1970. "Public Goods and Income Distribution," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 38(6), pages 907-20, November.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (EconWPA).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.