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Distributive Politics and Economic Growth

  • Rodrik, Dani
  • Alesina, Alberto

We study the relationship between politics and economic growth in a simple model of endogenous growth with distributive conflict among agents endowed with varying capital/labor shares. We establish several results regarding the factor ownership of the median individual and the level of taxation, redistribution, and growth. Policies that maximize growth are optimal only for a government that cares solely about pure "capitalists." The greater the inequality of wealth and income, the higher the rate of taxation, and the lower growth. We present empirical results that show that inequality in land and income ownership is negatively correlated with subsequent economic growth.

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File URL: http://dash.harvard.edu/bitstream/handle/1/4551798/alesina_distributive.pdf
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Paper provided by Harvard University Department of Economics in its series Scholarly Articles with number 4551798.

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Date of creation: 1994
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Quarterly Journal of Economics
Handle: RePEc:hrv:faseco:4551798
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  1. Alberto Alesina & Guido Tabellini, 1988. "Voting on the Budget Deficit," NBER Working Papers 2759, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1991. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth? Theory and Evidence," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt00x7n68q, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  3. Andrew Berg & Jeffrey Sachs, 1988. "The Debt Crisis: Structural Explanations of Country Performance," NBER Working Papers 2607, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Mohtadi, Hamid & Roe, Terry L., 1991. "Political Economy of Endogenous Growth (Revised)," Bulletins 7502, University of Minnesota, Economic Development Center.
  5. Galor, Oded & Zeira, Joseph, 1993. "Income Distribution and Macroeconomics," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(1), pages 35-52, January.
  6. Terrones, M., 1990. "Influence Activities And Economic Growth," UWO Department of Economics Working Papers 9006, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics.
  7. Barro, R.J., 1989. "Economic Growth In A Cross Section Of Countries," RCER Working Papers 201, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  8. Roberts, Kevin W. S., 1977. "Voting over income tax schedules," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 329-340, December.
  9. 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 914-27, October.
  10. Mayer, Wolfgang, 1984. "Endogenous Tariff Formation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(5), pages 970-85, December.
  11. Fischer, Stanley, 1980. "Dynamic inconsistency, cooperation and the benevolent dissembling government," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 93-107, May.
  12. Romer, Thomas, 1975. "Individual welfare, majority voting, and the properties of a linear income tax," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 163-185, February.
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