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Policy-oriented Parties and the Choice Between Social and Private Insurance

  • De Donder, Philippe
  • Hindricks, Jean

We study the political economy of social insurance in a world where individuals differ in both income and risk. Social insurance is financed through distortionary taxation and redistributes across income and risk. Individuals vote on social insurance that they can complement with insurance bought on the private market. Private insurance is actuarially fair but suffers from adverse selection, which results in a screening equilibrium with partial coverage. The equilibrium social insurance is the result of an electoral competition game where parties maximize the utility of their members. We calculate the equilibrium social insurance offered by the two parties as well as their equilibrium membership, and study how the equilibrium outcome is affected by electoral uncertainty, distortions from taxation, risk aversion and the distribution of risk and income. We then calibrate the model to US data from the PSID survey. Lastly, we study how the political demand for social insurance is affected by the possibility to redistribute through income taxation.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 4864.

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Date of creation: Jan 2005
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:4864
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  1. Helmuth Cremer & Pierre Pestieau, 1996. "Redistributive taxation and social insurance," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 3(3), pages 281-295, July.
  2. Blomqvist, Ake & Horn, Henrik, 1984. "Public health insurance and optimal income taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 353-371, August.
  3. DE DONDER, Philippe & HINDRIKS, Jean, . "The politics of redistributive social insurance," CORE Discussion Papers RP -1674, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  4. Miguel Gouveia, 1997. "Majority rule and the public provision of a private good," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 93(3), pages 221-244, December.
  5. Petretto, Alessandro, 1999. "Optimal social health insurance with supplementary private insurance," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(6), pages 727-745, December.
  6. Joel Shapiro, 2001. "Income maintenance programs and multidimensional screening," Economics Working Papers 544, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  7. Yaari, Menahem E, 1987. "The Dual Theory of Choice under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(1), pages 95-115, January.
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