DP2905 The Survival of the Welfare State

Author(s): John Hassler, José V Rodríguez Mora, Kjetil Storesletten, Fabrizio Zilibotti
Publication Date: August 2001
Keyword(s): education, markov equilibrium, multiple equilibria, policy-behaviour complementarity, redistribution, repeated voting, wage inequality, welfare state
JEL(s): D72, E62, H11, H31, P16
Programme Areas: International Macroeconomics, Public Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=2905

This Paper provides an analytical characterization of Markov perfect equilibria in a model with repeated majority voting, where agents vote over 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 fully anticipate the effects of their political choice on both private incentives and future voting outcomes. The equilibrium features multiple steady-states, one with and one without a welfare state. The theory can explain why welfare state institutions, originally introduced in response to specific shocks (e.g., the Great Depression), have been so persistent.