IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/hrv/faseco/12502088.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Why Doesn't the United States Have a European-Style Welfare State?

Author

Listed:
  • Alesina, Alberto Francesco
  • Glaeser, Edward Ludwig
  • Sacerdote, Burce

Abstract

European countries are much more generous to the poor relative to the US level of generosity. Economic models suggest that redistribution is a function of the variance and skewness of the pre-tax income distribution, the volatility of income (perhaps because of trade shocks), the social costs of taxation and the expected income mobility of the median voter. None of these factors appear to explain the differences between the US and Europe. Instead, the differences appear to be the result of racial heterogeneity in the US and American political institutions. Racial animosity in the US makes redistribution to the poor, who are disproportionately black, unappealing to many voters. American political institutions limited the growth of a socialist party, and more generally limited the political power of the poor.

Suggested Citation

  • Alesina, Alberto Francesco & Glaeser, Edward Ludwig & Sacerdote, Burce, 2001. "Why Doesn't the United States Have a European-Style Welfare State?," Scholarly Articles 12502088, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hrv:faseco:12502088
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://dash.harvard.edu/bitstream/handle/1/12502088/1209137.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Torsten Persson, 2002. "Do Political Institutions Shape Economic Policy?," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(3), pages 883-905, May.
    2. Roland Benabou & Efe A. Ok, 2001. "Social Mobility and the Demand for Redistribution: The Poum Hypothesis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(2), pages 447-487.
    3. Pedro Portugal & Olivier Blanchard, 2001. "What Hides Behind an Unemployment Rate: Comparing Portuguese and U.S. Labor Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 187-207, March.
    4. William Easterly & Ross Levine, 1997. "Africa's Growth Tragedy: Policies and Ethnic Divisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1203-1250.
    5. Alesina, Alberto & Di Tella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert, 2004. "Inequality and happiness: are Europeans and Americans different?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 2009-2042, August.
    6. Checchi, Daniele & Ichino, Andrea & Rustichini, Aldo, 1999. "More equal but less mobile?: Education financing and intergenerational mobility in Italy and in the US," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(3), pages 351-393, December.
    7. Ben S. Bernanke & Julio J. Rotemberg (ed.), 1997. "NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1997," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 026252242x.
    8. Ben S. Bernanke & Julio J. Rotemberg (ed.), 1996. "NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1996," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262522225.
    9. Boeri, Tito, 2000. "Structural Change, Welfare Systems, and Labour Reallocation: Lessons from the Transition of Formerly Planned Economies," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198293651.
    10. Dani Rodrik, 1998. "Why Do More Open Economies Have Bigger Governments?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(5), pages 997-1032, October.
    11. Victor R. Fuchs, 1996. "Individual and Social Responsibility: Child Care, Education, Medical Care, and Long-Term Care in America," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number fuch96-1.
    12. Stephen Nickell, 1997. "Unemployment and Labor Market Rigidities: Europe versus North America," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 55-74, Summer.
    13. O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), 1999. "Handbook of Labor Economics," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier, edition 1, volume 3, number 3.
    14. Cameron, David R., 1978. "The Expansion of the Public Economy: A Comparative Analysis," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 72(4), pages 1243-1261, December.
    15. Erzo F. P. Luttmer, 2001. "Group Loyalty and the Taste for Redistribution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(3), pages 500-528, June.
    16. Palacios,Robert J. & Pallares-Miralles,Montserrat, 2000. "International patterns of pension provision," Policy Research Working Paper Series 98252, The World Bank.
    17. Poterba, James M. & von Hagen, Jurgen (ed.), 1999. "Fiscal Institutions and Fiscal Performance," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226676234, March.
    18. James M. Poterba & Jürgen von Hagen, 1999. "Fiscal Institutions and Fiscal Performance," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number pote99-1.
    19. Tanzi,Vito & Schuknecht,Ludger, 2000. "Public Spending in the 20th Century," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521662918, May.
    20. Clark Nardinelli & Curtis Simon, 1990. "Customer Racial Discrimination in the Market for Memorabilia: The Case of Baseball," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 105(3), pages 575-595.
    21. Fuchs, Victor R. (ed.), 1996. "Individual and Social Responsibility," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226267869, March.
    22. Palacios,Robert J. & Pallares-Miralles,Montserrat, 2000. "International patterns of pension provision," Social Protection and Labor Policy and Technical Notes 98252, The World Bank.
    23. Whaples, Robert, 1995. "Where Is There Consensus Among American Economic Historians? The Results of a Survey on Forty Propositions," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 55(1), pages 139-154, March.
    24. Perotti, Roberto, 1996. "Growth, Income Distribution, and Democracy: What the Data Say," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 1(2), pages 149-187, June.
    25. Wallace E. Oates, 1999. "An Essay on Fiscal Federalism," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(3), pages 1120-1149, September.
    26. Meltzer, Allan H & Richard, Scott F, 1981. "A Rational Theory of the Size of Government," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 914-927, October.
    27. Rabin, Matthew, 1993. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1281-1302, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Alberto Alesina & Edward Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote, 2001. "Why Doesn't The US Have a European-Style Welfare State?," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1933, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    2. Alberto Alesina & Edward Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote, 2001. "Why Doesn't the US Have a European-Style Welfare System?," NBER Working Papers 8524, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Bruno Amable & Donatella Gatti & Jan Schumacher, 2006. "Welfare-State Retrenchment: The Partisan Effect Revisited," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 22(3), pages 426-444, Autumn.
    4. Alberto Alesina & George-Marios Angeletos, 2005. "Fairness and Redistribution," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 960-980, September.
    5. Alberto Alesina & George-Marios Angeletos, 2002. "Fairness and Redistribution: US versus Europe," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1983, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    6. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 2002. "Political economics and public finance," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 24, pages 1549-1659, Elsevier.
    7. Bourguignon, Francois, 2005. "The Effect of Economic Growth on Social Structures," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 27, pages 1701-1747, Elsevier.
    8. Joan Esteban & Laurence Kranich, 2003. "The Social Contracts with Endogenous Sentiments," Working Papers 71, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    9. Aysan, Ahmet Faruk, 2005. "The Role of Efficiency of Redistributive Institutions on Redistribution: An Empirical Assessment," MPRA Paper 17773, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Shelton, Cameron A., 2007. "The size and composition of government expenditure," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(11-12), pages 2230-2260, December.
    11. Lee, Woojin, 2003. "Is democracy more expropriative than dictatorship? Tocquevillian wisdom revisited," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(1), pages 155-198, June.
    12. Miguel Braun & Luciano di Gresia, 2003. "Towards Effective Social Insurance in Latin America: The Importance of Countercyclical Fiscal Policy," Research Department Publications 4333, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    13. Matteo Cervellati & Joan-Maria Esteban & Laurence Kranich, 2010. "Work Values, Endogenous Sentiments and Redistribution," Working Papers 434, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    14. Shelton, Cameron A., 2008. "The aging population and the size of the welfare state: Is there a puzzle?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(3-4), pages 647-651, April.
    15. Alberto Alesina & Reza Baqir & William Easterly, 1999. "Public Goods and Ethnic Divisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(4), pages 1243-1284.
    16. Lin Yang, 2018. "The relationship between poverty and inequality: Resource constraint mechanisms," CASE Papers /212, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, LSE.
    17. Woo, Jaejoon, 2003. "Social polarization, industrialization, and fiscal instability: theory and evidence," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 223-252, October.
    18. Jonas Agell, 2002. "On the Determinants of Labour Market Institutions: Rent Seeking vs. Social Insurance," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 3(2), pages 107-135, May.
    19. Edward L. Glaeser, 2002. "The Political Economy of Hatred," NBER Working Papers 9171, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    20. Cervellati, Matteo & Esteban, Joan & Kranich, Laurence, 2010. "Work values, endogenous sentiments redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(9-10), pages 612-627, October.

    More about this item

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hrv:faseco:12502088. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/deharus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Office for Scholarly Communication (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/deharus.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.