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Should the Power to Redistribute Income be (De-)Centralized? An Example


  • Eckhard Janeba
  • Horst Raff


This paper deals with two questions which have recentlyreceived considerable attention in both the political debateand the academic literature: First, are fiscal programs largeror smaller when they are (de-)centralized? Second, should suchprograms be (de-)centralized? We answer these questions withina politico-economic model in which voters choose the parametersof a linear income tax taking into account how taxes affect laborsupply and migration decisions. It is shown that a decentralizedpolitical system may lead to a smaller government budget. Theconcept of a veil of ignorance is used to analyze the desirabilityof a decentralized system. It is argued that a decentralizedsystem is preferred under the veil of ignorance only if individualsare not too risk-averse and the income distribution is not toopolarized. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Suggested Citation

  • Eckhard Janeba & Horst Raff, 1997. "Should the Power to Redistribute Income be (De-)Centralized? An Example," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 4(4), pages 453-461, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:itaxpf:v:4:y:1997:i:4:p:453-461 DOI: 10.1023/A:1008608914395

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bolton, Patrick & Roland, Gerard, 1996. "Distributional Conflicts, Factor Mobility, and Political Integration," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 99-104, May.
    2. Wildasin, David E, 1991. "Income Redistribution in a Common Labor Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(4), pages 757-774, September.
    3. John C. Harsanyi, 1955. "Cardinal Welfare, Individualistic Ethics, and Interpersonal Comparisons of Utility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 63, pages 309-309.
    4. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1994. "Does centralization increase the size of government?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 38(3-4), pages 765-773, April.
    5. Epple, Dennis & Romer, Thomas, 1991. "Mobility and Redistribution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(4), pages 828-858, August.
    6. Epple, Dennis & Filimon, Radu & Romer, Thomas, 1984. "Equilibrium among local jurisdictions: toward an integrated treatment of voting and residential choice," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 281-308, August.
    7. Roberts, Kevin W. S., 1977. "Voting over income tax schedules," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 329-340, December.
    8. 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.
    9. Patrick J. Kehoe, 1989. "Policy Cooperation Among Benevolent Governments May Be Undesirable," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 56(2), pages 289-296.
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    Cited by:

    1. Koethenbuerger, Marko, 2014. "Competition for migrants in a federation: Tax or transfer competition?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(C), pages 110-118.
    2. Kira Boerner & Silke Uebelmesser, 2007. "Migration and the welfare state: The economic power of the non-voter?," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 14(1), pages 93-111, February.
    3. Hikaru Ogawa, 2001. "Allocation of authority under central grants," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 2(2), pages 159-172, July.
    4. Feld, Lars P, 2000. "Tax Competition and Income Redistribution: An Empirical Analysis for Switzerland," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 105(1-2), pages 125-164, October.


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