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The Politics of Flat Taxes
We study the determination of flat tax systems using a workhorse macroeconomic model of inequality. Our first result is that, despite the multidimensional policy space, equilibrium policies are typically unique (up to a fine grid numerical approximation). The majority voting outcome features (i) zero labor income taxation, (ii) simultaneous use of capital income and consumption taxation, and (iii) generally low transfers. We discuss the role of three factors?the initial heterogeneity in sources of income, the mobility of income and wealth, and the forward-looking aspect of voting?in ...
Does Trade Liberalization with China Influence U.S. Elections?
This paper examines the impact of trade liberalization on U.S. Congressional elections. We find that U.S. counties subject to greater competition from China via a change in U.S. trade policy exhibit relative increases in turnout, the share of votes cast for Democrats and the probability that the county is represented by a Democrat. We find that these changes are consistent with Democrats in office being more likely than Republicans to support legislation limiting import competition or favoring economic assistance.
The political economy of endogenous taxation and redistribution
This paper examines a simple dynamic model in which agents vote over capital income taxation and redistributive transfers. We show that in equilibrium the typical agent's preferences over the tax rate are single-peaked and derive a closed-form solution for the majority-rule tax rate. We also show that high levels of initial wealth inequality can place the economy on the 'wrong side of the Laffer curve'.
Online Appendix for: How Do Voters Respond to Welfare vis-à-vis Public Good Programs? An Empirical Test for Clientelism
This appendix accompanies Staff Report 605: How Do Voters Respond to Welfare vis-à-vis Public Good Programs? An Empirical Test for Clientelism.
Majority Voting: A Quantitative Investigation
We study the tax systems that arise in a once-and-for-all majority voting equilibrium embedded within a macroeconomic model of inequality. We find that majority voting delivers (i) a small set of outcomes, (ii) zero labor income taxation, and (iii) nearly zero transfers. We find that majority voting, contrary to the literature developed in models without idiosyncratic risk, is quite powerful at restricting outcomes; however, it also delivers predictions inconsistent with observed tax systems.
The Politics of Flat Taxes
We study the political determination of flat tax systems using a workhorse macroeconomic model of inequality. There is significant variation in preferred tax policy across the wealth and income distribution. The majority voting outcome features (i) zero labor income taxation, (ii) simultaneous use of capital income and consumption taxation, and (iii) essentially zero transfers. This policy is supported by a coalition of low- and middle-wealth households. Zero labor income taxation is supported by households with below average wealth, while the middle-wealth households prefer to keep the ...
How Do Voters Respond to Welfare vis-à-vis Public Good Programs? An Empirical Test for Clientelism
This paper examines allocation of benefits under local government programs in West Bengal, India to isolate patterns consistent with political clientelism. Using household survey data, we find that voters respond positively to private welfare benefits but not to local public good programs, while reporting having benefited from both. Consistent with the voting patterns, shocks to electoral competition induced by exogenous redistricting of villages resulted in upper-tier governments manipulating allocations across local governments only for welfare programs. Through the lens of a hierarchical ...