Electoral Institutions and the Politics of Coalitions: Why Some Democracies Redistribute More than Others

18 Pages Posted: 14 Jul 2008

See all articles by Torben Iversen

Torben Iversen

Harvard University

David Soskice

WZB Berlin Social Science Center

Date Written: July 13, 2008

Abstract

Standard political economy models of redistribution, notably that of Meltzer and Richard (1981), fail to account for the remarkable variance in government redistribution across democracies. We develop a general model of redistribution that explains why some democratic governments are more prone to redistribute than others. We show that the electoral system plays a key role because it shapes the nature of political parties and the composition of governing coalitions, hence redistribution. Our argument implies (1) that center-left governments dominate under PR systems, whereas center-right governments dominate under majoritarian systems; and (2) that PR systems redistribute more than majoritarian systems. We test our argument on panel data for redistribution, government partisanship, and electoral system in advanced democracies.

Keywords: redistribution, partisanship, electoral systems, parties, inequality

JEL Classification: H1, H5, I3

Suggested Citation

Iversen, Torben and Soskice, David, Electoral Institutions and the Politics of Coalitions: Why Some Democracies Redistribute More than Others (July 13, 2008). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1159452 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1159452

Torben Iversen (Contact Author)

Harvard University ( email )

Institute for Quantitative Social Science
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HOME PAGE: http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~iversen/index.htm

David Soskice

WZB Berlin Social Science Center ( email )

Reichpietschufer 50
D-10785 Berlin
Germany
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49 30 2549 1480 (Fax)

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