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Why is there so little redistribution?

  • Jo Thori Lind

In democratic societies with skewed income distributions, simple political economy models predict that the poor will form a coalition to implement high taxes. I review this basic theory and some of its extensions. Then I discuss how we can test the model, and some common pitfalls, before I review the empirical findings. Generally, the empirical support for the theory is weak. I end with a review of selected parts of the literature that tries to explain this lack of empirical support.

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File URL: http://www.nopecjournal.org/NOPEC_2005_a06.pdf
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Article provided by Nordic Journal of Political Economy in its journal Nordic Journal of Political Economy.

Volume (Year): 31 (2005)
Issue (Month): ()
Pages: 111-125

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Handle: RePEc:noj:journl:v:31:y:2005:p:111-125
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.nopecjournal.org

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  1. 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.
  2. Romer, Thomas, 1975. "Individual welfare, majority voting, and the properties of a linear income tax," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 163-185, February.
  3. Lindert, Peter H., 1996. "What Limits Social Spending?," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 1-34, January.
  4. Lind, Jo Thori, 2007. "Fractionalization and the size of government," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(1-2), pages 51-76, February.
  5. Milanovic, Branko, 2000. "The median-voter hypothesis, income inequality, and income redistribution: an empirical test with the required data," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 367-410, September.
  6. Lind Jo Thori, 2007. "Does Permanent Income Determine the Vote?," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 7(1), pages 1-27, July.
  7. Roemer, John E., 1998. "Why the poor do not expropriate the rich: an old argument in new garb," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(3), pages 399-424, December.
  8. Lind, Jo Thori, 2006. "Do the rich vote Conservative because they are rich?," Memorandum 02/2006, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  9. Alberto Alesina & Dani Rodrik, 1991. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 3668, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Woojin Lee & John Roemer, 2005. "Values and Politics in the US: An Equilibrium Analysis of the 2004 Election," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2005-08, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
  11. Robert Moffitt & David Ribar & Mark Wilhelm, 1998. "The Decline of Welfare Benefits in the US: The Role of Wage Inequality," Economics Working Paper Archive 373, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
  12. Alberto Alesina & Eliana La Ferrara, . "Preferences for Redistribution in the Land of Opportunities," Working Papers 178, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  13. Roland Benabou & Efe A. Ok, 1998. "Social Mobility and the Demand for Redistribution: The POUM Hypothesis," NBER Working Papers 6795, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Galasso, Vincenzo, 2003. "Redistribution and fairness: a note," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 885-892, November.
  15. Klaus Deininger & Lyn Squire, 1996. "A New Data Set Measuring Income Inequality," CEMA Working Papers 512, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
  16. Lee, Woojin & Roemer, John E., 2006. "Racism and redistribution in the United States: A solution to the problem of American exceptionalism," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(6-7), pages 1027-1052, August.
  17. La Ferrara, Eliana & Alesina, Alberto, 2005. "Preferences for Redistribution in the Land of Opportunities," Scholarly Articles 4552533, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  18. 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.
  19. Borge, Lars-Erik & Rattso, J.Jorn, 2004. "Income distribution and tax structure: Empirical test of the Meltzer-Richard hypothesis," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 48(4), pages 805-826, August.
  20. Moene, Karl O. & Wallerstein, Michael, 2003. "Income Inequality and Welfare spending: A disaggregated Analysis," Memorandum 18/2003, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  21. Hongyi Li & Lyn Squire & Tao Zhang & Heng-fu Zou, 1999. "A Data Set on Income Distribution," CEMA Working Papers 575, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
  22. Roland Benabou, 2000. "Unequal Societies: Income Distribution and the Social Contract," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 96-129, March.
  23. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1994. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 600-621, June.
  24. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521821759 is not listed on IDEAS
  25. Rothschild, Michael & Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1970. "Increasing risk: I. A definition," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 225-243, September.
  26. Andrea Brandolini & Anthony B. Atkinson, 2001. "Promise and Pitfalls in the Use of "Secondary" Data-Sets: Income Inequality in OECD Countries As a Case Study," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(3), pages 771-799, September.
  27. John E. Roemer & Karine Van der Straeten, 2006. "The Political Economy of Xenophobia and Distribution: The Case of Denmark," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 108(2), pages 251-277, 07.
  28. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521529167 is not listed on IDEAS
  29. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521821742 is not listed on IDEAS
  30. John Roemer, 2005. "Will democracy engender equality?," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 25(1), pages 217-234, 01.
  31. Ravallion, Martin & Lokshin, Michael, 2000. "Who wants to redistribute?: The tunnel effect in 1990s Russia," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(1), pages 87-104, April.
  32. Roberts, Kevin W. S., 1977. "Voting over income tax schedules," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 329-340, December.
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