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Community and Class Antagonism

  • Dasgupta, Indraneel
  • Kanbur, Ravi

We investigate how vertical unity within a community interacts with horizontal class divisions of an unequal income distribution. Community is conceptualized in terms of a public good to which all those in the community have equal access, but from which outsiders are excluded. We formulate the idea of redistributive tension, or class antagonism, in terms of the costs that poorer individuals would be willing to impose on the rich, to achieve a given gain in personal income. Our conclusion is that the nominal distribution of income could give a misleading picture of tensions in society, both within and across communities. Ideologies of community solidarity may well trump those of class solidarity because of the implicit sharing of community resources brought about by community-specific public goods. Greater economic mobility of particular types may actually exacerbate class tensions instead of attenuating them. We illustrate our theoretical results with a discussion of a number of historical episodes of shifting class tensions and alliances.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 6330.

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Date of creation: Jun 2007
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6330
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  1. Alesina, Alberto & Baqir, Reza & Easterly, William, 1999. "Public goods and ethnic divisions," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2108, The World Bank.
  2. Breunig & R. & Dasgupta, I., 1999. "Are People Ashamed of Paying with Food Stamps?," Papers 382, Australian National University - Department of Economics.
  3. Dasgupta, Indraneel & Kanbur, Ravi, 2007. "Should Egalitarians Expropriate Philanthropists?," CEPR Discussion Papers 6362, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Baland, Jean-Marie & Platteau, Jean-Philippe, 2003. "Economics of common property management regimes," Handbook of Environmental Economics, in: K. G. Mäler & J. R. Vincent (ed.), Handbook of Environmental Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 4, pages 127-190 Elsevier.
  5. Cornes, Richard & Sandler, Todd, 2000. "Pareto-Improving Redistribution and Pure Public Goods," Staff General Research Papers 1833, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
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  9. E. Somanathan, 2002. "Can Growth Ease Class Conflict?," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 14(1), pages 65-81.
  10. Indraneel Dasgupta & Ravi Kanbur, 2005. "Community and anti-poverty targeting," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 3(3), pages 281-302, December.
  11. Bowles, Samuel & Gintis, Herbert, 2004. "Persistent parochialism: trust and exclusion in ethnic networks," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 1-23, September.
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  14. Robert Breunig & Indraneel Dasgupta, 2005. "Do Intra-Household Effects Generate the Food Stamp Cash-Out Puzzle?," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 87(3), pages 552-568.
  15. Cornes, Richard & Sandler, Todd, 1994. "The comparative static properties of the impure public good model," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(3), pages 403-421, July.
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  17. Hicks, J. R., 1969. "A Theory of Economic History," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198811633, March.
  18. Dasgupta, Indraneel & Kanbur, Ravi, 2003. "Bridging Communal Divides: Separation, Patronage, Integration," Working Papers 127235, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
  19. Cornes, Richard, 1993. "Dyke Maintenance and Other Stories: Some Neglected Types of Public Goods," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(1), pages 259-71, February.
  20. Andreoni, James, 1990. "Impure Altruism and Donations to Public Goods: A Theory of Warm-Glow Giving?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(401), pages 464-77, June.
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