A Note on Income Distribution and Government Transfers
William Bassett, John Burkett, and Louis Putterman
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.