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Transfers, Social Safety Nets, and Economic Growth

Author

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  • Xavier Sala-I-Martin

    (International Monetary Fund)

Abstract

This paper analyzes the role of social safety nets in the form of redistributional transfers and wage subsidies. It argues that public welfare programs can be viewed as devices to prevent crime or disruption because they tend to increase the opportunity cost of engaging in crime or disruptive activities. It is shown that, in the presence of a leisure choice, wage subsidies may be better than pure transfers. Using a simple growth model, the optimal size of the public welfare program is found, and it is argued that public welfare should be financed with income (not lump-sum) taxes, despite the fact that income taxes are distortionary. The intuition for this result is that income taxes act as a user fee on congested public goods and transfers can be thought of as productive public goods subject to congestion.

Suggested Citation

  • Xavier Sala-I-Martin, 1997. "Transfers, Social Safety Nets, and Economic Growth," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 44(1), pages 81-102, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:pal:imfstp:v:44:y:1997:i:1:p:81-102
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Hansen, Lars Peter, 1982. "Large Sample Properties of Generalized Method of Moments Estimators," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 1029-1054, July.
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    8. Rodriguez, Carlos Alfredo, 1982. "The Argentine stabilization plan of December 20th," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 10(9), pages 801-811, September.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H53 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Welfare Programs
    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions
    • H56 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - National Security and War
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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