IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Voting for immiserizing income redistribution in the Meltzer-Richard model

  • Barnett, Richard


    (Department of Economics & International Business Lebow College of Business Drexel University)

  • Bhattacharya, Joydeep


    (Department of Economics Iowa State University)

  • Bunzel, Helle


    (Department of Economics Iowa State University)

In the classic Meltzer and Richard (1981) model, the canonical model of income redistribution in democracies, voters, heterogeneous on the sole dimension of idiosyncratic productivity,evaluate an income redistributive program that pays everyone a lump-sum income subsidy financed by a distorting income tax levied on all. The political-equilibrium policy under majority rule is the tax rate most preferred (in a utility sense) by the median voter. The larger the gap between the median and mean income, the larger is the scale of income redistribution favored by the median voter. But does the median voter actually end up with more income post redistribution? We establish, somewhat ironically, that the median voter (and many poorer voters)in the Meltzer-Richard model may support income redistribution that leaves them poorer in income terms. Indeed, the basis for their support may not be more income but more leisure. The analysis spotlights the fact that transfer income, unlike labor income, requires no direct sacrifice of leisure.

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:
File Function: Full text
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by LeBow College of Business, Drexel University in its series School of Economics Working Paper Series with number 2012-15.

in new window

Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: 01 Nov 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ris:drxlwp:2012_015
Contact details of provider: Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
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.:

as in new window
  1. 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.
  2. Lindqvist, Erik, 2008. "Identity and Redistribution," Working Paper Series 735, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  3. Angeletos, George-Marios & Alesina, Alberto, 2005. "Fairness and Redistribution," Scholarly Articles 4553009, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  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. Marina Azzimonti & Eva de Francisco & Per Krusell, 2008. "Aggregation and Aggregation," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 6(2-3), pages 381-394, 04-05.
  6. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2002. "Political Economics: Explaining Economic Policy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262661314, June.
  7. Kai A. Konrad & Florian Morath, 2011. "Social Mobility and Redistributive Taxation," Working Papers social_mobility_and_redis, Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance.
  8. Konrad, Kai A. & Morath, Florian, 2011. "Aspirations of the middle class: Voting on redistribution and status concerns," Discussion Papers, Research Professorship & Project "The Future of Fiscal Federalism" SP II 2011-102, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  9. Christian Traxler, 2009. "Majority Voting and the Welfare Implications of Tax Avoidance," Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2009_22, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
  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.
  11. Allan Meltzer & Scott Richard, 1983. "Tests of a rational theory of the size of government," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 41(3), pages 403-418, January.
  12. Hodler, Roland, 2008. "Leisure and redistribution," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 354-363, June.
  13. Borge, Lars-Erik & Rattso, J.Jorn, 2004. "Income distribution and tax structure: Empirical test of the Meltzer-Richard hypothesis," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 48(4), pages 805-826, August.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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:ris:drxlwp:2012_015. 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: (Richard C. Barnett)

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.