The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Redistribution of Income and Wealth

  • F. A. Cowell
Reference work entry


The topic of redistribution is sometimes interpreted narrowly in rather dry terms: as the description and quantification of the simple fact of change in an income or wealth distribution. This can apply both to an actual change that takes place through time and also to the apparent alteration of the distribution at a point in time by taxes and transfers, and principally involves problems of measurement that are common to other fields of applied economics. However, redistribution can also be seen as a specific goal for economic policymakers: as such it is a subject of special interest in its own right. Sections “The Reason for Wanting to Redistribute”, “The Objectives of Redistribution”, “What Should Be Redistributed?”, “The Available Instruments” below concentrate primarily on this second interpretation; some issues arising under the first interpretation are considered in section “The Effectiveness of the Policy”.


Education Efficiency Equity Inequality Multiple equilibria Pensions Price control Progressive and regressive taxation Redistribution of income and wealth Social insurance 

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. A. Cowell
    • 1
  1. 1.