Justifications for Redistribution: A Critique
19 Pages Posted: 22 Jun 2018
Date Written: June 2018
It is striking that there are so many theoretical justifications of redistribution by government. Is it because each single justification is weak? I review and criticise the various arguments advanced in the literature. The main distinctions are between (a) Paretian justifications asserting that all, including the net payers, benefit from redistribution, (b) theories of justice and (c) utilitarianism. My conclusion is that redistribution ought to be based on Paretian arguments as far as possible and that helping the poor is more likely to maximise the happiness of all than is a general levelling of income differences.
Keywords: Director's Law, justice, redistribution, utilitarianism
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