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John P. Burkett
Executive Director, ISIAC
Department of Economics
University of Rhode Island
806 Chafee Hall, 10 Chafee Road
Kingston, RI 02881–0808
phone (401) 874–9195
fax (401) 874–2858
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Abstract

A Note on Income Distribution and Government Transfers

William Bassett, John Burkett, and Louis Putterman

Institute for the Study of International Aspects of Competition

Working Paper 97-3

Several papers have posited that inequality hinders growth by leading to high distorting taxes and transfers. We retest whether inequality and transfers are positively linked, using several alternative definitions and data sets including new income data assembled by the World Bank. We correct an error in a result of Persson and Tabellini (1994), show that the relationship across mixed country samples is if anything negative, confirm Perotti’s (1996) finding that this relationship weakens or disappears when population structure (% over 65) is controlled for, and introduce two alternative theories of the distribution-transfers link that allow political influence to be a function of income.

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