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Repeated electoral competition over nonlinear income tax schedules


  • Georges Casamatta


  • Helmuth Cremer
  • Philippe De Donder


We consider a repeated electoral competition game between two parties, each representing a constituent with a given income level. Parties are unable to commit to any policy before the election; they choose a non-linear income tax schedule once elected. In each period, citizens cast a vote either for the incumbent or for the challenger. We first show that there exist (pure strategy) subgame perfect equilibria where both parties choose the most-preferred tax schedule of their constituent, subject to the constraint that they are reelected. We characterize a specific class of these BPR (Best Policy with Reelection) equilibria in which one of the parties plays its constituent's unconstrained optimal tax function. Equilibrium tax schedules are always piecewise linear. Depending on the income levels of the two parties' constituents, we obtain either classical left-vs-right equilibria (where poorer people vote for one party and richer people for the other one) or ends-against-the-middle equilibria (where both poor and rich people vote for one party while the middle class vote for the other party). In both types of equilibria both parties propose the same tax schedule to a subset of the population.
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Suggested Citation

  • Georges Casamatta & Helmuth Cremer & Philippe De Donder, 2010. "Repeated electoral competition over nonlinear income tax schedules," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 35(4), pages 535-574, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:sochwe:v:35:y:2010:i:4:p:535-574
    DOI: 10.1007/s00355-010-0462-9

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. De Donder, Philippe & Hindriks, Jean, 2003. "The politics of progressive income taxation with incentive effects," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(11), pages 2491-2505, October.
    2. Duggan, John & Fey, Mark, 2005. "Electoral competition with policy-motivated candidates," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 490-522, May.
    3. John Duggan, 2000. "Repeated Elections with Asymmetric Information," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 12(2), pages 109-135, July.
    4. Banks, Jeffrey S. & Duggan, John, 2008. "A Dynamic Model of Democratic Elections in Multidimensional Policy Spaces," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 3(3), pages 269-299, October.
    5. Henning Bohn & Charles Stuart, 2003. "Voting and Nonlinear Taxes in a Stylized Representative Democracy," CESifo Working Paper Series 1058, CESifo Group Munich.
    6. Roberts, Kevin W. S., 1977. "Voting over income tax schedules," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 329-340, December.
    7. Carbonell-Nicolau, Oriol & Ok, Efe A., 2007. "Voting over income taxation," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 134(1), pages 249-286, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. John Roemer, 2012. "The political economy of income taxation under asymmetric information: the two-type case," SERIEs: Journal of the Spanish Economic Association, Springer;Spanish Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 181-199, March.
    2. Bierbrauer, Felix J. & Boyer, Pierre C., 2013. "Political competition and Mirrleesian income taxation: A first pass," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 1-14.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies


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