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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. Lockwood, Ben, 1997. "Inter-Regional Insurance," Discussion Papers 9703, Exeter University, Department of Economics.
  2. Robert J. Barro, 1988. "Government Spending in a Simple Model of Endogenous Growth," NBER Working Papers 2588, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  4. Caminal, Ramon, 2004. "Personal redistribution and the regional allocation of public investment," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 55-69, January.
  5. Aschauer, David Alan, 1989. "Is public expenditure productive?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 177-200, March.
  6. Cheikbossian, G., 1997. "Fiscal Federalism, Political Equilibrium and Distributive Politics," DELTA Working Papers 97-12, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
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  8. 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.
  9. Bolton, Patrick & Roland, Gérard, 1995. "The Break up of Nations: A Political Economy Analysis," CEPR Discussion Papers 1225, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. 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.
  11. 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).
  12. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1996. "Federal Fiscal Constitutions: Risk Sharing and Moral Hazard," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(3), pages 623-46, May.
  13. Alberto Alesina & Dani Rodrik, 1991. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 3668, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Baxter, Marianne & King, Robert G, 1993. "Fiscal Policy in General Equilibrium," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(3), pages 315-34, June.
  15. Gramlich, Edward M, 1994. "Infrastructure Investment: A Review Essay," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 32(3), pages 1176-96, September.
  16. 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.
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