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Voting for income-immiserizing redistribution in the Meltzer-Richard model

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  • Barnett, Richard C.
  • Bhattacharya, Joydeep
  • Bunzel, Helle

Abstract

This paper argues that income received via redistributive transfers, unlike labor income, requires no direct sacrifice of leisure; this makes it attractive to many voters even if it leaves them poorer. This point is made within the classic Meltzer and Richard (1981) model wherein heterogeneous voters evaluate an income-redistribution program that finances a lump-sum transfer to all via a distorting income tax. The political-equilibrium policy under majority rule is the tax most preferred, utility-wise, by the median voter. She, and many poorer voters, may support income redistribution that, ironically, leaves them poorer in income terms but with higher utility.

Suggested Citation

  • Barnett, Richard C. & Bhattacharya, Joydeep & Bunzel, Helle, 2013. "Voting for income-immiserizing redistribution in the Meltzer-Richard model," Staff General Research Papers Archive 36600, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:isu:genres:36600
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    16. repec:cup:apsrev:v:105:y:2011:i:02:p:316-336_00 is not listed on IDEAS
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    income redistribution; voting; Meltzer-Richard;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • E6 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook
    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue

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