The median-voter hypothesis, income inequality, and income redistribution: an empirical test with the required data
The median voter hypothesis has been central to an extensive literature on consequences of income distribution. For example, it has been proposed that greater inequality is associated with lower growth, because of the greater redistribution that is sought by the median voter when income distribution is less equal. There have however been no proper tests of the median-voter hypothesis concerning redistribution, because of previous absence of data on factor income distribution (that is, incomes before taxes and transfers) across households, and thus on the gains by poorer households from redistribution. The study reported in this paper is based on the required data, with 79 observations drawn from household budget surveys from 24 democracies. The results strongly support the conclusion that countries with greater inequality of factor income redistribute more to the poor. This is so even when we control for the share of the elderly in the population and for pension transfers. The evidence that the median-voter hypothesis adequately describes the collective-choice mechanism is however considerably weaker. Although middle-income groups gain more/or lose less through redistribution in countries where initial (factor) income distribution is more unequal, this regularity is all but lost when, by excluding pensions, we look only at explicit redistributive social transfers from which the middle classes contemporaneously gain little. This leaves us searching for alternative explanations: do middle-classes gain from transfers in the long-run even if not contemporaneously, or is the median voter hypothesis, based on direct democracy, a proper representation of the mechanisms of collective-decision making in representative democracy?
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)
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.:
- Bertola, Giuseppe, 1993.
"Factor Shares and Savings in Endogenous Growth,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1184-1198, December.
- Bertola, Giuseppe, 1991. "Factor Shares and Savings In Endogenous Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 576, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Giuseppe Bertola, 1991. "Factor Shares and Savings in Endogenous Growth," NBER Working Papers 3851, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Roberto Perotti, 1993. "Political Equilibrium, Income Distribution, and Growth," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(4), pages 755-776.
- Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1992. "Growth, distribution and politics," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 36(2-3), pages 593-602, April.
- Guido Enrico Tabellini & Torsten Persson, 1991. "Growth, Distribution and Politics," IMF Working Papers 91/78, International Monetary Fund.
- Alberto Alesina & Dani Rodrik, 1994. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(2), pages 465-490.
- Alesina, Alberto F & Rodrik, Dani, 1991. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 565, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Alberto Alesina & Dani Rodrik, 1991. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 3668, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Rodrik, Dani & Alesina, Alberto, 1994. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," Scholarly Articles 4551798, Harvard University Department of Economics.
- Easterly, William & Rebelo, Sergio, 1993. "Fiscal policy and economic growth: An empirical investigation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 417-458, December.
- William Easterly & Sergio Rebelo, 1993. "Fiscal Policy and Economic Growth: An Empirical Investigation," NBER Working Papers 4499, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Easterly, William & Rebelo, Sérgio, 1994. "Fiscal Policy and Economic Growth: An Empirical Investigation," CEPR Discussion Papers 885, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Feld, Lars P. & Kirchgassner, Gebhard, 2000. "Direct democracy, political culture, and the outcome of economic policy: a report on the Swiss experience," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 287-306, June.
- Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1994. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 600-621, June.
- Persson, T. & Tabellini, G., 1993. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth," Papers 537, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
- Perotti, Roberto, 1992. "Income Distribution, Politics, and Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(2), pages 311-316, May.
- Perotti, Roberto, 1996. "Growth, Income Distribution, and Democracy: What the Data Say," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 1(2), pages 149-187, June.
- Alesina, Alberto & Perotti, Roberto, 1994. "The Political Economy of Growth: A Critical Survey of the Recent Literature," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 8(3), pages 351-371, September.
- Bassett, William F. & Burkett, John P. & Putterman, Louis, 1999. "Income distribution, government transfers, and the problem of unequal influence," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 207-228, June. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:poleco:v:16:y:2000:i:3:p:367-410. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.