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The Democratic Political Economy Of Progressive Income Taxation


  • John E. Roemer


Why do both left and right political parties typically propose progressive income taxation schemes in political competition? Analysis of this problem has been hindered by the two-dimensionality of the issue space. To give parties a choice over a domain which contains both progressive and regressive income tax policies requires an issue space that is at least two-dimensional. Nash equilibrium in pure strategies of the standard two-party game, whose players have complete preferences over a two-dimensional policy space, generically fails to exist. I introduce a new equilibrium concept for political games, based on the fact of factional conflict within parties. Each party is supposed to consist of reformists, militants, and opportunists: each faction has a complete preference order on policy space, but together they can only agree on a partial order. Nash equilibria of the two party game, where the policy space consists of all quadratic income tax functions, and each party is represented by its partial order, exist, and it is shown that, in such equilibria, both parties propose progressive income taxation.

Suggested Citation

  • John E. Roemer, "undated". "The Democratic Political Economy Of Progressive Income Taxation," Department of Economics 97-11, California Davis - Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:fth:caldec:97-11

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Mark A. Wynne, 2008. "Core inflation: a review of some conceptual issues," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue May, pages 205-228.
    2. Diewert, W. Erwin, 1998. "High Inflation, Seasonal Commodities, And Annual Index Numbers," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 2(04), pages 456-471, December.
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    5. Michael F. Bryan & Stephen G. Cecchetti, 1994. "Measuring Core Inflation," NBER Chapters,in: Monetary Policy, pages 195-219 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    7. Michael F. Bryan & Stephen G. Cecchetti, 1993. "The consumer price index as a measure of inflation," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, issue Q IV, pages 15-24.
    8. Clements, Kenneth W & Izan, H Y, 1987. "The Measurement of Inflation: A Stochastic Approach," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 5(3), pages 339-350, July.
    9. Paul A. Armknecht & Fenella Maitland-Smith, 1999. "Price Imputation and Other Techniques for Dealing with Missing Observations, Seasonality and Quality Change in Price Indices," IMF Working Papers 99/78, International Monetary Fund.
    10. Stephen G. Cecchetti, 1997. "Measuring short-run inflation for central bankers," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue May, pages 143-155.
    11. Diewert, W. Erwin, 1999. "Index Number Approaches To Seasonal Adjustment," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 3(01), pages 48-68, March.
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    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior


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