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Social security, public education and the growth-inequality relationship

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  • Glomm, Gerhard
  • Kaganovich, Michael

Abstract

We study how the relationship between economic growth and inequality depends upon the levels of funding of two of the largest government programs, public education and social security. We do this in the context of an overlapping generations economy with heterogeneous agents where the government collects a tax on labor income to finance these programs. We show that in our model an increase in government spending on social security reduces income inequality and can have a non-monotonic effect on growth. When the initial level of social security funding is low, as is the case in most poor economies, then its increase will enhance growth. When its funding level is high as is typical for developed countries, we show that its further increase can slow down growth while reducing income inequality. These results obtain regardless of whether the increase in social security funding is financed by a tax increase or by cutting the public education budget. We also find that the effects of increasing the level of public education expenditures or the overall size of the government budget (holding the budget composition fixed) are characterized by similar non-monotonic growth-inequality relationships.

Suggested Citation

  • Glomm, Gerhard & Kaganovich, Michael, 2008. "Social security, public education and the growth-inequality relationship," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(6), pages 1009-1034, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:52:y:2008:i:6:p:1009-1034
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