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The survival of the welfare state

Author

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  • John Hassler
  • José V. Rodríguez Mora
  • Kjetil Storesletten
  • Fabrizio Zilibotti

Abstract

This paper provides an analytical characterization of Markov perfect equilibria in a politico-economic model with repeated voting, where agents vote over distortionary income redistribution. The key feature of the theory is that the future constituency of redistributive policies depends positively on the current level of redistribution, since this affects both private investments and the future distribution of voters. Agents vote rationally and fullly anticipate the effects of their political choice on both private incentives and future voting outcomes. The model features multiple equilibria. In "pro-welfare" equilibria, both welfare state policies and their effects on distribution persist forever. In "anti-welfare equilibria", even a majority of beneficiaries of redistributive policies vote strategically so as to induce the formation of a future majority that will vote for zero redistribution.

Suggested Citation

  • John Hassler & José V. Rodríguez Mora & Kjetil Storesletten & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2001. "The survival of the welfare state," Economics Working Papers 603, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  • Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:603
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    repeated voting; Markov equilibrium; multiple equilibria; welfare state; redistribution; political economy; policy persistence; wage inequality; education;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism

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