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A Political Economy Explanation for In-kind Redistribution: The Interplay of Corruption and Democracy

Author

Listed:
  • Zohal Hessami

    () (Department of Economics, University of Konstanz, Germany)

  • Claudio Thum

    () (Center for Economic Studies, University of Munich, Germany)

  • Silke Uebelmesser

    () (Department of Economics, University of Jena, Germany)

Abstract

This paper identifies a novel political-economy explanation for the observed variation in the cash and in-kind (basic health care, public housing or food stamps) mixture of social transfers. We put forward the hypothesis that the share of in-kind transfers is positively correlated with corruption in democratic countries. The argument is derived in a theoretical model which assumes that it is easier for politicians to appropriate cash transfers than in-kind transfers. Voters in corrupt countries know that cash transfers invite corrupt behavior and therefore they elect parties that opt for in-kind redistributive measures. The empirical analysis for 34 OECD countries over the 1984 – 2007 period provides robust evidence in favor of this hypothesis. Moreover, the positive correlation between the in-kind share of social transfers and perceived corruption is stronger for the “most democratic” OECD countries and in countries with specific institutional characteristics such as free media that further enhance democratic accountability.

Suggested Citation

  • Zohal Hessami & Claudio Thum & Silke Uebelmesser, 2012. "A Political Economy Explanation for In-kind Redistribution: The Interplay of Corruption and Democracy," Working Paper Series of the Department of Economics, University of Konstanz 2012-25, Department of Economics, University of Konstanz.
  • Handle: RePEc:knz:dpteco:1225
    as

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    File URL: http://www.uni-konstanz.de/FuF/wiwi/workingpaperseries/WP_Hessami-Thum-Uebelmesser_25_12.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    Cited by:

    1. Zohal Hessami & Silke Uebelmesser, 2016. "A political-economy perspective on social expenditures: corruption and in-kind versus cash transfers," Economics of Governance, Springer, pages 71-100.
    2. repec:spr:ecogov:v:17:y:2016:i:1:p:71-100 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    In-kind social transfers; redistribution; corruption; democracy; social expenditures;

    JEL classification:

    • D7 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making
    • H42 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Publicly Provided Private Goods

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