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Macroeconomic Consequences of Distributional Conflicts

  • Andreas Schäfer
  • Thomas Steger

This paper aims at better understanding the inefficiency due to distributional conflicts, which are inherent in every market economy. To this end, we set up a simple general equilibrium model with the following characteristics: two groups of agents (capitalists and workers), an endogenous income tax, productive government expenditures, social transfers, and an outside option for capital. The political mechanism employed in this paper accounts for the evidence showing that the degree of organization of major interest groups has an impact on political outcomes and, in addition, allows for strategic interaction among major interest groups. We decompose the overall inefficiency into three components: (i) a fundamental time inconsistency problem; (ii) strategic interaction in the political process; (iii) heterogeneity among individuals and the resulting unavoidable conflict of interest. A numerical exercise (based on OECD data) shows that the distributional-conflict inefficiency may cause a substantial output loss of about 7%.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2007.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2007
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  1. Daron Acemoglu, 2002. "Why Not a Political Coase Theorem? Social Conflict, Commitment and Politics," NBER Working Papers 9377, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Caselli, Francesco, 2004. "Accounting for Cross-Country Income Differences," CEPR Discussion Papers 4703, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Giuseppe Bertola, 1991. "Factor Shares and Savings in Endogenous Growth," NBER Working Papers 3851, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Lancaster, Kelvin, 1973. "The Dynamic Inefficiency of Capitalism," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(5), pages 1092-1109, Sept.-Oct.
  5. 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.
  6. Daron Acemoglu & Georgy Egorov & Konstantin Sonin, 2006. "Coalition Formation in Political Games," NBER Working Papers 12749, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Aschauer, David Alan, 1989. "Is public expenditure productive?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 177-200, March.
  8. Becker, Gary S, 1983. "A Theory of Competition among Pressure Groups for Political Influence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 98(3), pages 371-400, August.
  9. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1999. "A Theory Of Fairness, Competition, And Cooperation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 817-868, August.
  10. Benhabib, Jess & Rustichini, Aldo, 1996. " Social Conflict and Growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 125-42, March.
  11. Francesco Caselli, 2005. "Accounting for cross-country income differences," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 3567, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  12. Jean-Robert Tyran & Rupert Sausgruber, 2002. "A Little Fairness may Induce a Lot of Redistribution in Democracy," University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2002 2002-30, Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen.
  13. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1977. "Rules Rather Than Discretion: The Inconsistency of Optimal Plans," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(3), pages 473-91, June.
  14. Fischer, Stanley, 1980. "Dynamic inconsistency, cooperation and the benevolent dissembling government," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 93-107, May.
  15. Hassler, John & Mora, Jose & Storesletten, Kjetil & Zilibotti, Fabrizio, 2002. "The Survival of the Welfare State," Seminar Papers 704, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  16. Glomm, Gerhard & Ravikumar, B., 1997. "Productive government expenditures and long-run growth," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 183-204, January.
  17. Meltzer, Allan H & Richard, Scott F, 1981. "A Rational Theory of the Size of Government," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 914-27, October.
  18. Barro, R.J., 1988. "Government Spending In A Simple Model Of Endogenous Growth," RCER Working Papers 130, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  19. Roberts, Kevin W. S., 1977. "Voting over income tax schedules," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 329-340, December.
  20. Arjan Lejour & Harrie Verbon, 1997. "Tax Competition and Redistribution in a Two-Country Endogenous-Growth Model," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 4(4), pages 485-497, November.
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