IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

The Welfare State and Competitiveness

Listed author(s):
  • Alberto Alesina
  • Roberto Perotti

In all modern industrial countries, redistributive expenditures are a larger component of the government budget than consumption of goods and services. In this paper, we use a general equilibrium, two- country model with exportables, importables and nontradables to study redistribution across different types of agents in a world characterized by the presence of labor unions and distortionary taxation. We show that an increase in transfers to, say, retirees, financed by distortionary taxation, can generate a loss of competitiveness (defined as an increase in relative unit labor costs for tradable goods), an appreciation of the relative price of nontradables, and a decrease in employment in all sectors of the domestic economy. The same qualitative effects would also obtain in the case of an increase in transfers towards the unemployed even if financed by non-distortionary taxation. Moreover, all these effects of labor taxation depend in a nonlinear way on the degree of centralization of the wage setting process in the labor market. We then estimate the effects of labor taxation on unit labor costs and the relative price of nontradables in a sample of 14 OECD countries. We find considerable empirical support for the model.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4810.

in new window

Date of creation: Jul 1994
Publication status: published as American Economic Review, Vol. 87, no. 5 (December 1997): 921-939.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4810
Note: ME PE
Contact details of provider: Postal:
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.

Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4810. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.