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Raising vs. Leveling in the Social Organization of Welfare

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  • Wagner Richard E.

    (George Mason University)

Abstract

This paper contrasts raising and leveling as alternative conceptual frameworks regarding the social organization of welfare. At least since Richard Musgraves (1959) tripartite organization of the theory of public finance, most fiscal scholars have treated the redistributive activities of governments as necessarily belonging to the national level of government. More significantly perhaps, that literature has treated the problem of promoting welfare as one of leveling incomes through programs of taxing-and-transferring. In contrast, this paper treats the problem of promoting welfare as one of raising incomes. This alternative formulation leads, in turn, to an alternative orientation toward the relationship between federalism and welfare. In particular, there is good reason to think that genuinely competitive federalism offers a sounder institutional framework for the promotion of raising than can redistribution through a central government, mostly because the knowledge that is required for a program of raising is distributed and incapable of meaningful summarization through aggregation.

Suggested Citation

  • Wagner Richard E., 2010. "Raising vs. Leveling in the Social Organization of Welfare," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 6(3), pages 421-439, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:rlecon:v:6:y:2010:i:3:n:6
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Talcott Parsons, 1931. "Wants and Activities in Marshall," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 46(1), pages 101-140.
    2. Pauly, Mark V., 1973. "Income redistribution as a local public good," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 35-58, February.
    3. Eusepi Giuseppe & Wagner Richard E., 2010. "Polycentric Polity: Genuine vs. Spurious Federalism," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 6(3), pages 329-345, December.
    4. Alan P. Kirman, 1992. "Whom or What Does the Representative Individual Represent?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 6(2), pages 117-136, Spring.
    5. Loewenstein, George, 1999. "Because It Is There: The Challenge of Mountaineering . . . for Utility Theory," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(3), pages 315-343.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hans Gersbach & Lars-H. Siemers, 2014. "Can democracy induce development? A constitutional perspective," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 159(1), pages 177-196, April.

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