Justifications for Redistribution: A Critique

19 Pages Posted: 22 Jun 2018

See all articles by Roland Vaubel

Roland Vaubel

University of Mannheim - Department of Economics

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

Suggested Citation

Vaubel, Roland, Justifications for Redistribution: A Critique (June 2018). Economic Affairs, Vol. 38, Issue 2, pp. 166-184, 2018, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3200731 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ecaf.12295

Roland Vaubel (Contact Author)

University of Mannheim - Department of Economics ( email )

D-68131 Mannheim

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