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The political economy of labor subsidies


  • Marina Azzimonti

    () (Economics University of Iowa)

  • Eva de Francisco
  • Per Krusell


We explore a political-economy model of labor subsidies, extending Meltzer and Richard's median-voter model to a dynamic setting. We explore only one source of heterogeneity: initial wealth. As a consequence, given an operative wealth effect, poorer agents work harder, and if the agent with median wealth is poorer than average, a politico-economic equilibrium will feature a subsidy to labor. The dynamic model does not have capital, but it has perfect markets for borrowing and lending. This means that another channel appears: tax rates influence interest rates, and this is another channel for redistribution, since a decrease in current interest rates favors agents with below-average wealth. By the same token---and as is typically the case in dynamic politico-economic models with rational agents---the setting features time-inconsistency: the median voter would like to commit not to manipulate interest rates in the future. We define a time-consistent politico-economic equilibrium without commitment as a Markov-perfect equilibrium of a dynamic game between consecutive median voters. We rely on utility functions consistent with aggregation, and we show that, for arbitrary wealth distributions, politico-economic equilibria deliver tax outcomes as a function of a single state variable: median wealth. We use the first-order condition of the median voter to characterize equilibrium. For a parametric example, we study in some detail, both in infinite- and short-horizon contexts, and using a combination of analytical and numerical results, how tax rates and inequality are determined over time

Suggested Citation

  • Marina Azzimonti & Eva de Francisco & Per Krusell, 2006. "The political economy of labor subsidies," 2006 Meeting Papers 588, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed006:588

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Krusell, Per & Kuruscu, Burhanettin & Smith, Anthony Jr., 2002. "Equilibrium Welfare and Government Policy with Quasi-geometric Discounting," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 105(1), pages 42-72, July.
    2. Paul Klein & Per Krusell & José-Víctor Ríos-Rull, 2004. "Time-Consistent Public Expenditures," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000652, UCLA Department of Economics.
    3. Per Krusell & Anthony A. Smith, Jr., 2003. "Consumption--Savings Decisions with Quasi--Geometric Discounting," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(1), pages 365-375, January.
    4. Jose-Victor Rios-Rull & Per Krusell, 1999. "On the Size of U.S. Government: Political Economy in the Neoclassical Growth Model," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1156-1181, December.
    5. Marco Bassetto & Jess Benhabib, 2006. "Redistribution, Taxes and the Median Voter," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 9(2), pages 211-223, April.
    6. Chamley, Christophe, 1986. "Optimal Taxation of Capital Income in General Equilibrium with Infinite Lives," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(3), pages 607-622, May.
    7. 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 914-927, October.
    8. David Laibson, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-478.
    9. Judd, Kenneth L., 1985. "Redistributive taxation in a simple perfect foresight model," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 59-83, October.
    10. Marina Azzimonti & Eva de Francisco & Per Krusell, 2006. "Median-voter Equilibria in the Neoclassical Growth Model under Aggregation," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 108(4), pages 587-606, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Corbae, Dean & D'Erasmo, Pablo & Kuruscu, Burhanettin, 2009. "Politico-economic consequences of rising wage inequality," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 43-61, January.

    More about this item


    Redistribution; Time Inconsistency; Markov-Perfect Equilibrium; Median Voter;

    JEL classification:

    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy


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