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Multidimensional income taxation and electoral competition: an equilibrium analysis

  • Oriol Carbonell-Nicolau

    ()

    (Rutgers University)

  • Efe Ok

    ()

    (New York University)

One of the fundamental problems of the positive theory of income taxation is explaining why the statutory income tax schedules in all industrialized democracies are marginal-rate progressive. While it is commonly believed that this is but a simple consequence of the fact that the number of relatively poor voters exceeds that of richer voters in such societies, putting this contention in a voting equilibrium context proves to be a nontrivial task. We study the Downsian model in the context of nonlinear taxation and inquire about the possibility of providing a formal argument in support of the aforementioned intuition. We first show existence of mixed strategy equilibria and then ask qualitative questions about the nature of these equilibria. Our positive results show that there are cases where marginal-rate progressive taxes are chosen with probability one by the political parties. Our negative results show that, if the tax policy space is not artificially constrained, equilibria exist whose support does not lie within the set of all marginal-rate progressive taxes.

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Paper provided by Rutgers University, Department of Economics in its series Departmental Working Papers with number 200407.

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Length: 20 pages
Date of creation: 12 Apr 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:rut:rutres:200407
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  1. Allesandro Lizzeri & Nicola Persico, . "The Drawbacks of Electoral Competition," CARESS Working Papres 00-02, University of Pennsylvania Center for Analytic Research and Economics in the Social Sciences.
  2. Esteban F. Klor, 2003. "On the Popular Support for Progressive Taxation," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 5(4), pages 593-604, October.
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  4. John E. Roemer, 1997. "The Democratic Political Economy of Progressive Income Taxation," Discussion Papers 97-03, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  5. Carbonell-Nicolau, Oriol & Klor, Esteban F., 2003. "Representative democracy and marginal rate progressive income taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(5-6), pages 1137-1164, May.
  6. Philip J. Reny, 1999. "On the Existence of Pure and Mixed Strategy Nash Equilibria in Discontinuous Games," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(5), pages 1029-1056, September.
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  14. Alessandro Lizzeri & Nicola Persico, . ""The Provision of Public Goods Under Alternative Electoral Incentives''," CARESS Working Papres 98-08, University of Pennsylvania Center for Analytic Research and Economics in the Social Sciences.
  15. 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.
  16. Banks, Jeffrey S. & Duggan, John & Le Breton, Michel, 2002. "Bounds for Mixed Strategy Equilibria and the Spatial Model of Elections," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 103(1), pages 88-105, March.
  17. Jean-FranÚois Laslier, 2000. "Interpretation of electoral mixed strategies," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 17(2), pages 283-292.
  18. Simon, Leo K. & Zame, William R., 1987. "Discontinous Games and Endogenous Sharing Rules," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt8n46v2wv, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  19. Marhuenda, Francisco & Ortuno-Ortin, Ignacio, 1995. "Popular support for progressive taxation," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 48(3-4), pages 319-324, June.
  20. Laslier, Jean-Francois & Picard, Nathalie, 2002. "Distributive Politics and Electoral Competition," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 103(1), pages 106-130, March.
  21. Maskin, Eric, 1986. "The Existence of Equilibrium with Price-Setting Firms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(2), pages 382-86, May.
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