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http://ssrn.com/abstract=290047
 
 

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Why Doesn't The US Have a European-Style Welfare State?


Alberto F. Alesina


Harvard University - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Edward L. Glaeser


Harvard University - John F. Kennedy School of Government, Department of Economics; Brookings Institution; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Bruce Sacerdote


Dartmouth College - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

October 2001

Harvard Inst. of Econ. Research Disc. Paper No. 1933

Abstract:     
European countries are much more generous to the poor relative to the US level of generosity. Economic models suggest that redistribution is a function of the variance and skewness of the pre-tax income distribution, the volatility of income (perhaps because of trade shocks), the social costs of taxation and the expected income mobility of the median voter. None of these factors appear to explain the differences between the US and Europe. Instead, the differences appear to be the result of racial heterogeneity in the US and American political institutions. Racial animosity in the US makes redistribution to the poor, who are disproportionately black, unappealing to many voters. American political institutions limited the growth of a socialist party, and more generally limited the political power of the poor.

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Date posted: November 8, 2001  

Suggested Citation

Alesina, Alberto F. and Glaeser, Edward L. and Sacerdote, Bruce, Why Doesn't The US Have a European-Style Welfare State? (October 2001). Harvard Inst. of Econ. Research Disc. Paper No. 1933. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=290047 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.290047

Contact Information

Alberto F. Alesina
Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )
Littauer Center
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-8388 (Phone)
617-495-7730 (Fax)
Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)
77 Bastwick Street
London, EC1V 3PZ
United Kingdom
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
Edward L. Glaeser (Contact Author)
Harvard University - John F. Kennedy School of Government, Department of Economics ( email )
Littauer Center
Room 315A
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-496-2150 (Phone)
617-496-1722 (Fax)
Brookings Institution
1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20036-2188
United States
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
Bruce Sacerdote
Dartmouth College - Department of Economics ( email )
6106 Rockefeller Hall
Hanover, NH 03755
United States
603-646-2121 (Phone)
603-646-2122 (Fax)
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
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