Does endogenous formation of jurisdictions lead to wealth stratification?
This paper examines the validity of the “folk” intuition that endogenous formation of jurisdictions is likely to create stratification of households according to their wealth. More specifically, we examine a simple model of jurisdiction formation, close in spirit to that of Whestoff (), in which a continuum of unequally wealthy households endowed with the same preferences for one public good and one private good make a location decision in a finite set. Households who choose the same location form a jurisdiction. Within each jurisdiction, the public good is financed by a proportional wealth tax whose rate is decided by a social choice mechanism. The only assumption imposed on the mechanism is to select the most preferred tax rate of one member of the jurisdiction. We define a jurisdiction structure to be stable if it gives to no household any incentive to move away from its jurisdiction. We raise the question of whether stable jurisdiction structures will be stratified in the precise sense that if two households belong to one jurisdiction, then so do all households with intermediate wealth. We provide a necessary and, if households preferences satisfy an additional regularity property, sufficient condition on the households preferences that guarantees that any stable jurisdictions structure involves stratification in this sense. The condition is that the household’s most preferred tax rate must be a strictly monotonic function of its wealth.
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