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The Progressivity of Equalization Payments in Federations

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  • GRAVEL, Nicolas
  • POITEVIN, Michel

Abstract

We investigate the conditions under which an inequality averse and additively separable welfarist constitution maker would always choose to set up a progressive equalization payments scheme in a federation with local public goods. A progressive equalization payments scheme is defined as a list of per capita net (possibly negative) subsidies — one such net subsidy for every jurisdiction — that are decreasing with respect to jurisdictions per capita wealth. We examine these questions in a setting in which the case for progressivity is a priori the strongest, namely, all citizens have the same utility function for the private and the public goods, inhabitants of a given jurisdiction are all identical, and they are not able to move across jurisdictions. We show that the constitution maker favors a progressive equalization payments scheme for all distributions of wealth and all population sizes if and only if its objective function is additively separable between each jurisdiction’s per capita wealth and number of inhabitants. When interpreted as a mean of order r social welfare function, this condition is shown to be equivalent to additive separability of the individual’s indirect utility function with respect to wealth and the price of the public good. Some implications of this restriction to the case where the individual’s direct utility function is additively separable are also derived.

Suggested Citation

  • GRAVEL, Nicolas & POITEVIN, Michel, 2004. "The Progressivity of Equalization Payments in Federations," Cahiers de recherche 14-2004, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
  • Handle: RePEc:mtl:montec:14-2004
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Robin W. Boadway & Frank R. Flatters, 1982. "Efficiency and Equalization Payments in a Federal System of Government: A Synthesis and Extension of Recent Results," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 15(4), pages 613-633, November.
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    6. Flatters, Frank & Henderson, Vernon & Mieszkowski, Peter, 1974. "Public goods, efficiency, and regional fiscal equalization," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 99-112, May.
    7. Robin Boadway & Katherine Cuff & Maurice Marchand, 2003. "Equalization and the Decentralization of Revenue-Raising in a Federation," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 5(2), pages 201-228, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Rongili Biswas & Nicolas Gravel & Rémy Oddou, 2013. "The segregative properties of endogenous formation of jurisdictions with a welfarist central government," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 41(2), pages 293-319, July.
    2. Benoît Tarroux, 2012. "Are equalization payments making Canadians better off? A two-dimensional dominance answer," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 10(1), pages 19-44, March.
    3. Rongili Biswas & Nicolas Gravel & Rémy Oddou, 2008. "On the Segregative Properties of Endogenous Jurisdiction Formation with a Central Government," IDEP Working Papers 0802, Institut d'economie publique (IDEP), Marseille, France, revised 05 2008.
    4. Biswas, Rongili & Gravel, Nicolas & Oddou, Rémy, 2009. "The segregative properties of endogenous jurisdictions formation with a welfarist central government," POLIS Working Papers 121, Institute of Public Policy and Public Choice - POLIS.
    5. Nicolas Gravel & Patrick Moyes & Benoît Tarroux, 2009. "Robust International Comparisons of Distributions of Disposable Income and Regional Public Goods," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 76(303), pages 432-461, July.
    6. Nicolas Gravel & Michel Poitevin, 2014. "Should a Non-Rival Public Good Always Be Provided Centrally?," Working Papers halshs-01063191, HAL.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • H10 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - General
    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • H70 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - General
    • H73 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Interjurisdictional Differentials and Their Effects
    • H77 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism

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