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Politico-economic consequences of rising wage inequality

  • Corbae, Dean
  • D'Erasmo, Pablo
  • Kuruscu, Burhanettin

This paper uses a dynamic political economy model to evaluate whether the observed rise in wage inequality and decrease in median to mean wages can explain some portion of the relative increase in transfers to low earnings quintiles and relative increase in effective tax rates for high earnings quintiles in the U.S. over the past several decades. Specifically, we assume that households have uninsurable idiosyncratic labor efficiency shocks and consider policy choices by a median voter which are required to be consistent with a sequential equilibrium. We choose the transition matrix to match observed mobility in wages between 1978 and 1979 in the panel study of income dynamics (PSID) data set and then evaluate the response of social insurance policies to a new transition matrix that matches the observed mobility in wages between 1995 and 1996 and is consistent with the rise in wage inequality and the decrease in median to mean wages between 1979 and 1996. We deal with the problem that policy outcomes affect the evolution of the wealth distribution (and hence prices) by approximating the distribution by a small set of moments. We contrast these numbers with those from a sequential utilitarian mechanism, as well as mechanisms with commitment.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Monetary Economics.

Volume (Year): 56 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 43-61

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Handle: RePEc:eee:moneco:v:56:y:2009:i:1:p:43-61
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  1. S. Rao Aiyagari, 1994. "Optimal capital income taxation with incomplete markets, borrowing constraints, and constant discounting," Working Papers 508, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  2. Per Krusell & Anthony A. Smith, Jr., . "Income and Wealth Heterogeneity in the Macroeconomy," GSIA Working Papers 1997-37, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
  3. Heathcote, Jonathan & Storesletten, Kjetil & Violante, Giovanni L, 2005. "Insurance and Opportunities: The Welfare Implications of Rising Wage Dispersion," CEPR Discussion Papers 5200, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Jose-Victor Rios-Rull & Per Krusell, 1999. "On the Size of U.S. Government: Political Economy in the Neoclassical Growth Model," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1156-1181, December.
  5. Heathcote, Jonathan, 1999. "Fiscal Policy with Heterogeneous Agents and Incomplete Markets," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 319, Stockholm School of Economics, revised 28 Jul 1999.
  6. David Domeij & Jonathan Heathcote, 2004. "On The Distributional Effects Of Reducing Capital Taxes," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(2), pages 523-554, 05.
  7. S. Rao Aiyagari, 1994. "Uninsured Idiosyncratic Risk and Aggregate Saving," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(3), pages 659-684.
  8. MaCurdy, Thomas E, 1981. "An Empirical Model of Labor Supply in a Life-Cycle Setting," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(6), pages 1059-85, December.
  9. Rao Aiyagari, S. & Peled, Dan, 1995. "Social insurance and taxation under sequential majority voting and utilitarian regimes," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 19(8), pages 1511-1528, November.
  10. Krusell, Per & Quadrini, Vincenzo & Rios-Rull, Jose-Victor, 1997. "Politico-economic equilibrium and economic growth," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 243-272, January.
  11. 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 402-17, June.
  12. Marina Azzimonti-Renzo & Eva de Francisco & Per Krusell, 2006. "The political economy of labor subsidies," Working Paper 06-09, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
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