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Production subsidies and redistribution

Listed author(s):
  • Azzimonti, Marina
  • de Francisco, Eva
  • Krusell, Per

Who gains from stimulating output? We explore a dynamic model with production subsidies where the population is heterogeneous in one dimension: wealth. There are two channels through which production subsidies redistribute resources across the population. First, poorer agents gain from a rise in wages, since--to the extent there is an operative wealth effect in labor supply--they work harder. Second, because a current output boost will raise consumption today relative to the future, thus lowering real interest rates, poor agents gain in relative terms since their income is based less on interest income. We examine optimal redistribution from the perspective of an arbitrary consumer in the population. We show that, if this consumer has commitment at time zero to set all present and future subsidy rates, and for a class of preferences that admits aggregation in wealth, then output stimulation, and hence redistribution, will only occur at time zero; after that, subsidies are zero. A byproduct of our analysis of this environment is a median-voter theorem: with direct voting over subsidy sequences at time zero, the sequence preferred by the median-wealth consumer is the unique outcome. We also study lack of commitment, since interest-rate manipulation is associated with time inconsistency. We analyze this case formally by looking at the Markov-perfect (time-consistent) equilibrium in a game between successive identical decision makers (e.g., the median agent). Here, subsidies persist--they are constant over time--and are more distortionary than under commitment. Moreover, whereas under commitment asset inequality changes initially--in favor of the consumer who decides on policy--it does not under lack of commitment.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Theory.

Volume (Year): 142 (2008)
Issue (Month): 1 (September)
Pages: 73-99

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jetheo:v:142:y:2008:i:1:p:73-99
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622869

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  1. Per Krusell & Anthony A. Smith, Jr., 2003. "Consumption--Savings Decisions with Quasi--Geometric Discounting," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(1), pages 365-375, January.
  2. A. B. Atkinson, 1971. "Capital Taxes, the Redistribution of Wealth and Individual Savings," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(2), pages 209-227.
  3. Marina Azzimonti & Eva de Francisco & Per Krusell, 2006. "Median-voter Equilibria in the Neoclassical Growth Model under Aggregation," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 108(4), pages 587-606, December.
  4. Marco Bassetto & Jess Benhabib, 2006. "Redistribution, taxes, and the median voter," Working Paper Series WP-06-02, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  5. Roberts, Kevin W. S., 1977. "Voting over income tax schedules," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 329-340, December.
  6. David Altig, 2001. "Simulating Fundamental Tax Reform in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 574-595, June.
  7. Krusell, Per & Kuruscu, Burhanettin & Smith Jr., Anthony A, 2001. "Equilibrium Welfare and Government Policy with Quasi-Geometric Discounting," CEPR Discussion Papers 2693, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Greenwood, Jeremy & Hercowitz, Zvi & Huffman, Gregory W, 1988. "Investment, Capacity Utilization, and the Real Business Cycle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(3), pages 402-417, June.
  9. Eric Maskin & Jean Tirole, 1997. "Markov Perfect Equilibrium, I: Observable Actions," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1799, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  10. Judd, Kenneth L., 1985. "Redistributive taxation in a simple perfect foresight model," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 59-83, October.
  11. S. Rao Aiyagari, 1993. "Uninsured idiosyncratic risk and aggregate saving," Working Papers 502, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  12. Laibson, David I., 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," Scholarly Articles 4481499, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  13. Chamley, Christophe, 1986. "Optimal Taxation of Capital Income in General Equilibrium with Infinite Lives," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(3), pages 607-622, May.
  14. Per Krusell & Jose-Victor Rios-Rull, 1997. "On the size of U.S. government: political economy in the neoclassical growth model," Staff Report 234, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  15. Per Krusell & Anthony A. Smith & Jr., 1998. "Income and Wealth Heterogeneity in the Macroeconomy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(5), pages 867-896, October.
  16. Correia, Isabel H., 1999. "On the efficiency and equity trade-off," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 581-603, December.
  17. Robert E. Lucas Jr. & Nancy L. Stokey, 1982. "Optimal Fiscal and Monetary Policy in an Economy Without Capital," Discussion Papers 532, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  18. Huggett, Mark, 1993. "The risk-free rate in heterogeneous-agent incomplete-insurance economies," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 17(5-6), pages 953-969.
  19. Andrew Atkeson & V. V. Chari & Patrick J. Kehoe, 1999. "Taxing capital income: a bad idea," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Sum, pages 3-17.
  20. Meltzer, Allan H & Richard, Scott F, 1981. "A Rational Theory of the Size of Government," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 914-927, October.
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