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Redistribution and constitutional political economy

Abstract

Economists since Pareto have sought to demonstrate that governmental redistribution to assist the poor increases overall welfare in society. This paper addresses the general issue of redistribution but focuses on two recent efforts to justify redistribution in the context of constitutional political economy. It is argued below that income insurance and other proposed rationale for redistribution overlook or minimize information and incentive problems endemic in all governmental programs to assist the poor. Two reasons for opposing legislated redistribution are discussed—the first rooted in pragmatic considerations, the other based on principle. The conclusions are twofold: (1) purported justifications for redistributive policies are inconsistent with methodological individualism, and (2) it is problematic as to whether imposing such an obligation on the public-at-large even at the constitutional level will improve the welfare of the poor and the non-poor.

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Pasour, E.C. Redistribution and constitutional political economy. Constit Polit Econ 5, 81–98 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02393257

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JEL classification

  • H30