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The Right Type of Legislator: A Theory of Taxation and Representation

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  • Andrea Mattozzi
  • Erik Snowberg

Abstract

We develop a theory of taxation and the distribution of government spending in a citizen-candidate model of legislatures. Individuals are heterogeneous in two dimensions: productive ability in the private sector and negotiating ability in politics. When these are positively correlated, rich voters always prefer a rich legislator, but poor voters face a trade-off. A rich legislator will secure more pork for the district, but will also prefer lower taxation than the poor voter. Our theory organizes a number of stylized facts across countries about taxation and redistribution, parties, and class representation in legislatures. We demonstrate that spending does not necessarily increase when the number of legislators increases, as the standard common-pool intuition suggests, and that many policies aimed at increasing descriptive representation may have the opposite effect.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrea Mattozzi & Erik Snowberg, 2018. "The Right Type of Legislator: A Theory of Taxation and Representation," NBER Working Papers 24279, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:24279
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    Cited by:

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    2. Gianmarco Daniele & Amedeo Piolatto & Willem Sas, 2018. "Who Sent You? Strategic Voting, Transfers and Bailouts in a Federation," Working Papers. Serie AD 2018-05, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
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    4. Gianmarco Daniele & Amedeo Piolatto & Willem Sas, 2020. "Does the Winner Take It All? Redistributive Policies and Political Extremism," Working Papers 1157, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    5. Mizuno, Nobuhiro & Okazawa, Ryosuke, 2018. "Why do voters elect less qualified candidates?," MPRA Paper 89215, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation
    • H10 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - General
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies

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