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Personal redistribution and the regional allocation of public investment

How should an equity-motivated policy-marker allocate public capital (infrastructure) across regions. Should it aim at reducing interregional differences in per capita output, or at maximizing total output? Such a normative question is examined in a model where the policy-marker is exclusively concerned about personal inequality and has access to two policy instruments. (i) a personal tax-transfer system (taxation is distortionary), and (ii) the regional allocation of public investment. I show that the case for public investment as a significant instrument for interpersonal redistribution is rather weak. In the most favorable case, when the tax code is constrained to be uniform across regions, it is optimal to distort the allocation of public investment in favor of the poor regions, but only to a limited extent. The reason is that poor individuals are relatively more sensitive to public trans fers, which are maximized by allocating public investment efficiently. If! the tax code can vary across regions then the optimal policy may involve an allocation of public investment distorted in favor of the rich regions.

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Paper provided by Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC) in its series UFAE and IAE Working Papers with number 526.02.

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Length: 20
Date of creation: 01 Jul 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:aub:autbar:526.02
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  1. Cheikbossian, G., 1997. "Fiscal Federalism, Political Equilibrium and Distributive Politics," DELTA Working Papers 97-12, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  2. Ramon Caminal, 2003. "Personal Redistribution and the Regional Allocation of Public Investment," Working Papers 5, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  3. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1994. "Does centralization increase the size of government?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 38(3-4), pages 765-773, April.
  4. Alesina, Alberto & Rodrik, Dani, 1994. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(2), pages 465-90, May.
  5. King, R.G. & Baxter, M., 1990. "Fiscal Policy In General Equilibrium," RCER Working Papers 244, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  6. David Aschauer, 1988. "Is public expenditure productive?," Staff Memoranda 88-7, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  7. Bolton, Patrick & Roland, Gérard, 1995. "The Break up of Nations: A Political Economy Analysis," CEPR Discussion Papers 1225, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Barro, Robert J, 1990. "Government Spending in a Simple Model of Endogenous Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(5), pages S103-26, October.
  9. de la Fuente, Angel, 2002. "Is the Allocation of Public Capital Across the Spanish Regions too Redistributive?," CEPR Discussion Papers 3138, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1996. "Federal Fiscal Constitutions: Risk Sharing and Redistribution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(5), pages 979-1009, October.
  11. Hulten, Charles R. & Schwab, Robert M., 1997. "A fiscal federalism approach to infrastructure policy," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 139-159, April.
  12. Lockwood, Ben, 1997. "Inter-Regional Insurance," Discussion Papers 9703, Exeter University, Department of Economics.
  13. MICHEL, Philippe & PESTIEAU, Pierre & THISSE, Jacques-François, . "Regional allocation of investment with distributive objectives," CORE Discussion Papers RP -523, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  14. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1996. "Federal Fiscal Constitutions: Risk Sharing and Moral Hazard," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(3), pages 623-46, May.
  15. Takahashi, Takaaki, 1998. "On the optimal policy of infrastructure provision across regions," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 213-235, March.
  16. Gramlich, Edward M, 1994. "Infrastructure Investment: A Review Essay," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 32(3), pages 1176-96, September.
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