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The Dynamics of Inequality and Social Security in General Equilibrium

42 Pages Posted: 24 Mar 2009  

Zheng Michael Song

Fudan University - School of Economics

Date Written: March 24, 2009


This paper analyzes the dynamic politico-economic equilibrium of a model where repeated voting on social security and the evolution of household characteristics in general equilibrium are mutually affected over time. In particular, we incorporate within-cohort heterogeneity in a two-period Overlapping-Generation model to capture the intra-generational redistributive effect of social security transfers. Political decision-making is represented by a probabilistic voting a la Lindbeck and Weibull (1987). We analytically characterize the Markov perfect equilibrium, in which social security tax rates are shown to be increasing in wealth inequality. The dynamic interaction between inequality and social security leads to growing social security programs. We also perform some normative analysis, showing that the politico-economic equilibrium outcomes are fundamentally different from the Ramsey allocation.

Keywords: inequality, intra-generational redistribution, Markov perfect equilibrium, probabilistic voting, social security

JEL Classification: E21, E62, H21, H55

Suggested Citation

Song, Zheng Michael, The Dynamics of Inequality and Social Security in General Equilibrium (March 24, 2009). Available at SSRN: or

Zheng Song (Contact Author)

Fudan University - School of Economics ( email )

600 GuoQuan Road
Shanghai, 200433

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