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Distributive Politics and Economic Growth

  • Alberto Alesina
  • Dani Rodrik

This paper studies the relationship between political conflict and economic growth in a simple model of endogenous growth with distributive conflicts. We study both the case of two "classes" (workers and capitalists) and the case of a continuum distribution of agents, characterized by different capital/labor shares. We establish several results concerning the relationship between the political influence of the two groups and the level of taxation, public investment, redistribution of income and growth. For example, it is shown that policies which maximize growth are optimal only for a government that cares only about the "capitalists." Also, we show that in a democracy (where the "median voter theorem' applies) the rate of taxation is higher and the rate of growth lower, the more unequal is the distribution of wealth We present empirical results consistent with these implications of the model.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w3668.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 3668.

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Date of creation: Mar 1991
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Quarterly Journal of Economics, forthcomgin 1994
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3668
Note: EFG
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  1. Barro, R.J., 1989. "Economic Growth In A Cross Section Of Countries," RCER Working Papers 201, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  2. Romer, Thomas, 1975. "Individual welfare, majority voting, and the properties of a linear income tax," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 163-185, February.
  3. Terrones, M., 1990. "Influence Activities And Economic Growth," UWO Department of Economics Working Papers 9006, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics.
  4. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 1991. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth? Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 3599, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Mayer, Wolfgang, 1984. "Endogenous Tariff Formation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(5), pages 970-85, December.
  6. Berg, Andrew & Sachs, Jeffrey, 1988. "The debt crisis structural explanations of country performance," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 271-306, November.
  7. Alesina, Alberto F & Tabellini, Guido, 1988. "Voting on the Budget Deficit," CEPR Discussion Papers 269, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Mohtadi, Hamid & Roe, Terry L., 1991. "Political Economy of Endogenous Growth (Revised)," Bulletins 7502, University of Minnesota, Economic Development Center.
  9. Fischer, Stanley, 1980. "Dynamic inconsistency, cooperation and the benevolent dissembling government," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 93-107, May.
  10. Roberts, Kevin W. S., 1977. "Voting over income tax schedules," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 329-340, December.
  11. Oded Galor & Joseph Zeira, 2013. "Income Distribution and Macroeconomics," Working Papers 2013-12, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  12. Meltzer, Allan H & Richard, Scott F, 1981. "A Rational Theory of the Size of Government," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 914-27, October.
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