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Bevolent Planners, Malevolent Dictators and Democratic Voters

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Abstract

We study the size of government and of GDP, under autocratic and democratic rule, respectively. It turns out that first, both democratic and authoritarian rulers apply the Samuelson (1954) criterion when deciding on productive public goods. Second, the labor supply elasticity and the skewness of the ability distribution determine whether democracy or autocracy will lead to the highest output. Third, when the ability distribution is sufficiently skewed, the democratic majority will behave like a rational autocrat, who chooses the tax rate that maximizes tax revenue. Fourth, population ageing in Western societies may lead to the policy preferred by a rational autocrat.

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  • Agell, Jonas & Persson, Mats, 2006. "Bevolent Planners, Malevolent Dictators and Democratic Voters," Research Papers in Economics 2006:6, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:sunrpe:2006_0006
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    9. Brennan,Geoffrey & Buchanan,James M., 2006. "The Power to Tax," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521027922, April.
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    Keywords

    Leviathan; democracy; median voter; redistribution; public goods;

    JEL classification:

    • D70 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - General
    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General
    • H40 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - General

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