Why Do Voters Demand Universal Government Benefits?
Universal social benefits seem to contradict important notions in economics. They are poorly targeted and must be paid for by what seem to be high taxes. This paper describes the costs of universality and then proposes two competing explanations for why an electorate might wish to pay these costs. It may be harder to identify the poor through targeted social programs than to simply give everyone social benefits and withdraw part of these benefits through the tax system. Or, universality may be a form of political insurance that protects any one group of voters from being exploited by others. Each conjecture leads to different predictions about the manner in which government benefits will vary with the incomes of the recipients. I use a model of tax and spending incidence for Canada in 1990 to see which conjecture helps best to understand the data. I find mixed evidence in favor of the notion that universality is a form of political insurance.
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.:
- Sam Peltzman, 1992. "Voters as Fiscal Conservatives," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(2), pages 327-361.
- Ludger Schuknecht & Vito Tanzi, 1995. "The Growth of Government and the Reform of the State in Industrial Countries," IMF Working Papers 95/130, International Monetary Fund.
- Piggott, John & Whalley, John, 1987. "Interpreting Net Fiscal Incidence Calculations," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 69(4), pages 685-94, November.
- Dodge, David A, 1975. "Impact of Tax, Transfer and Expenditure Policies of Government on the Distribution of Personal Income in Canada," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 21(1), pages 1-52, March.
- Alesina, Alberto F & Tabellini, Guido, 1988.
"Voting on the Budget Deficit,"
CEPR Discussion Papers
269, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Alberto Alesina & Guido Tabellini, 1988. "Voting on the Budget Deficit," NBER Working Papers 2759, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Tabellini, Guido & Alesina, Alberto, 1990. "Voting on the Budget Deficit," Scholarly Articles 4553030, Harvard University Department of Economics.
- Guido Tabellini & Alberto Alesina, 1988. "Voting on the Budget Deficit," UCLA Economics Working Papers 539, UCLA Department of Economics.
- Aaron, Henry & McGuire, Martin, 1970. "Public Goods and Income Distribution," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 38(6), pages 907-20, November.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwppe:0503009. 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: (EconWPA)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.