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Economic and Social-Class Voting in a Model of Redistribution with Social Concerns

Andrea Gallice () and Edoardo Grillo

Journal of the European Economic Association, 2020, vol. 18, issue 6, 3140-3172

Abstract: We investigate how social status concerns may affect voters’ preferences for redistribution. Social status is given by a voter’s relative standing in two dimensions: consumption and social class. By affecting the distribution of consumption levels, redistribution modifies the weights attached to the two dimensions. Thus, redistribution not only transfers resources from the rich to the poor, but it also amplifies or reduces the importance of social class differences. Social status concerns can simultaneously lead some members of the working class to oppose redistribution and some members of the socioeconomic elites to favor it. They also give rise to interclass coalitions of voters that, despite having different monetary interests, support the same tax rate. We characterize these coalitions and discuss the resulting political equilibrium.

Date: 2020
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