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Social insurance and labor mobility : a political economy approach


  • CREMER, Helmuth

    (IDEI and GREMAQ, Université de Toulouse)

  • PESTIEAU, Pierre

    () (CREPP, Université de Liège and Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE), Université catholique de Louvain (UCL), Louvain la Neuve, Belgium)


This paper presents a political economy approach to payroll tax competition between countries adopting different systems of social insurance. It considers two such systems: the Bismarckian one where benefits are partially linked to payroll taxes and the Beveridgean one where benefits are fiat. A third system, referred to as private, with no redistributive feature (and relying on the concept of actuarial fairness) is also considered. Our main objective is to assess the relative robustness of Bismarckian and Beveridgean social insurance systems in various symmetric and asymmetric set- tings. Quite surprisingly, the common belief that the Bismarckian system is more tax-competition proof turns out to be wrong in a number of cases. The fundamental instability of a Beveridgean system nevertheless appears when the social insurance system itself (and not just the level of protection) is chosen in a strategic way at some prior (constitutional) stage. It may then be a dominant strategy for all countries to adopt a Bismarckian system even when the Beveridgean system is less affected by tax competition. In other wordsl the choice of social insurance systems resemble a prisoners dilemma type game.

Suggested Citation

  • CREMER, Helmuth & PESTIEAU, Pierre, 1996. "Social insurance and labor mobility : a political economy approach," CORE Discussion Papers 1996061, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  • Handle: RePEc:cor:louvco:1996061

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    Cited by:

    1. Cremer, Helmuth & Pestieau, Pierre, 2003. "Social insurance competition between Bismarck and Beveridge," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 181-196, July.
    2. Alain Jousten & Pierre Pestieau, 2002. "Labor Mobility, Redistribution, and Pension Reform in Europe," NBER Chapters,in: Social Security Pension Reform in Europe, pages 85-108 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Pestieau, Pierre, 1996. "Politique sociale, redistribution et intégration économique," L'Actualité Economique, Société Canadienne de Science Economique, vol. 72(3), pages 275-289, septembre.

    More about this item


    political economy; social insurance; fiscal competition;

    JEL classification:

    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • H73 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Interjurisdictional Differentials and Their Effects
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior


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