Social Mobility and the Demand for Redistribution: The POUM Hypothesis
Even relatively poor people oppose high rates of redistribution because of the anticipation that they or their children may move up the income ladder. This hypothesis commonly advanced as an explanation of why most democracies do not engage in large-scale expropriation and highly progressive redistribution. But is it compatible with everyone -- especially the poor -- holding rational expectations that not everyone can simultaneously expect to end up richer than average? This paper establishes the formal basis for the POUM hypothesis. There is a range of incomes below the mean where agents oppose lasting redistributions if (and, in a sense, only if) tomorrow's expected income is increasing and concave in today's income. The laissez-faire coalition is larger, the more concave the transition function and the longer the policy horizon. We illustrate the general analysis with an example (calibrated to the U.S.) where, in every period, 3/4 of families are poorer than average, yet a 2/3 majority has expected future incomes above the mean, and therefore desires low tax rates for all future generations. We also analyze empirical mobility matrices from the PSID and find that the POUM effect is indeed a significant feature of the data.
|Date of creation:||Nov 1998|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||published as Benabou, Roland and Efe A. Ok. "Social Mobility And The Demand For Redistribution: The Poum Hypothesis," Quarterly Journal of Economics, 2001, v116(2,May), 447-487.|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: |
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Rodrik, Dani & Alesina, Alberto, 1994.
"Distributive Politics and Economic Growth,"
4551798, Harvard University Department of Economics.
- Louis Putterman & John E. Roemer & Joaquim Silvestre, 1998.
"Does Egalitarianism Have a Future?,"
Journal of Economic Literature,
American Economic Association, vol. 36(2), pages 861-902, June.
- Louis Putterman & John E. Roemer & Joaquim Silvestre, . "Does Egalitarianism Have A Future?," Department of Economics 96-09, California Davis - Department of Economics.
- Giacomo Bonanno & John Roemer & Louis Putterman & Wen Hai & Shunli Yao, 2003. "Does Egalitarianism Have a Future?," Working Papers 969, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
- Roland Benabou & Efe A. Ok, 1998.
"Social Mobility and the Demand for Redistribution: The POUM Hypothesis,"
NBER Working Papers
6795, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Roland Bénabou & Efe A. Ok, 2001. "Social Mobility And The Demand For Redistribution: The Poum Hypothesis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(2), pages 447-487, May.
- Bénabou, Roland & Ok, Efe A, 1998. "Social Mobility and the Demand for Redistribution: the POUM Hypothesis," CEPR Discussion Papers 1955, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Benabou, R. & Ok, E.A., 1998. "Social Mobility and the Demand for Redistribution: The POUM Hypothesis," Working Papers 98-23, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
- Bénabou, Roland & Ok, Efe, 1997. "Social Mobility and the Demand for Redistribution : the POUM Hypothesis," IDEI Working Papers 78, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse, revised 1999.
- Durlauf, S.N. & Cooper, S.J. & Johnson, P.A., 1993. "On the Evolution of Economic Status Across Generations," Working papers 9329, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
- Gourinchas, P.O. & Parker, J.A., 1997.
"Consumption Over the Life Cycle,"
9722, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
- Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas & Jonathan A. Parker, 1999. "Consumption Over the Life Cycle," NBER Working Papers 7271, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Gourinchas, Pierre-Olivier & Parker, Jonathan A, 2000. "Consumption Over the Life-Cycle," CEPR Discussion Papers 2345, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1994.
"Is Inequality Harmful for Growth?,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 600-621, June.
- Piketty, Thomas, 1995.
"Social Mobility and Redistributive Politics,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
MIT Press, vol. 110(3), pages 551-84, August.
- Roemer, John E., 1998. "Why the poor do not expropriate the rich: an old argument in new garb," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(3), pages 399-424, December.
- Dardanoni Valentino, 1993. "Measuring Social Mobility," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 372-394, December.
- Francisco Marhuenda & Ignacio Ortuño Ortín, 1995. "Popular Support For Progressive Taxation," Working Papers. Serie AD 1995-15, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
- Hirschman, Albert O & Rothschild, Michael, 1973. "The Changing Tolerance for Income Inequality in the Course of Economic Development; with a Mathematical Appendix," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 87(4), pages 544-66, November.
- Marhuenda, Francisco & Ortuno-Ortin, Ignacio, 1995. "Popular support for progressive taxation," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 48(3-4), pages 319-324, June.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6795. 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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.