Distributive Politics and Economic Growth

54 Pages Posted: 9 May 2000 Last revised: 15 Jul 2010

See all articles by Alberto F. Alesina

Alberto F. Alesina

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

Dani Rodrik

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: March 1991

Abstract

This paper studies the relationship between political conflict and economic growth in a simple model of endogenous growth with distributive conflicts. We study both the case of two "classes" (workers and capitalists) and the case of a continuum distribution of agents, characterized by different capital/labor shares. We establish several results concerning the relationship between the political influence of the two groups and the level of taxation, public investment, redistribution of income and growth. For example, it is shown that policies which maximize growth are optimal only for a government that cares only about the "capitalists." Also, we show that in a democracy (where the "median voter theorem' applies) the rate of taxation is higher and the rate of growth lower, the more unequal is the distribution of wealth We present empirical results consistent with these implications of the model.

Suggested Citation

Alesina, Alberto F. and Rodrik, Dani, Distributive Politics and Economic Growth (March 1991). NBER Working Paper No. w3668. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=227990

Alberto F. Alesina (Contact Author)

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)

London
United Kingdom

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Dani Rodrik

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-9454 (Phone)
617-496-5747 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.ksg.harvard.edu/rodrik/

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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