Mitigating the gap between the rich and the poor: an empirical assessment of key trends and drivers of redistribution

Author (Person) ,
Author (Corporate)
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Series Details Number 105
Publication Date 02/08/2019
ISBN 978-92-79-77442-3
ISSN 2443-8022
EC KC-BD-18-032-EN-N
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This paper presents new empirical evidence on the key trends and drivers of governmental income redistribution policies.

The growing inequality of market income has, in the recent past, attracted considerable attention; less so the redistribution of income. This paper analyses key trends and drivers determining the size of income redistribution across households. We show that in the EU increasing redistribution has largely stabilised the distribution of disposable income since the late 1990s. Only developing countries, where lagging income levels do not allow larger welfare programmes, and some advanced countries with a dominant free market ideology have recorded an increasing inequality of disposable income alongside a growing inequality of market outcomes. Our evidence from panel data shows that the degree of redistribution increases with percapita income, the share of low-tech, low-income sectors in manufacturing and, in line with the median voter model, when more than half of the voters earn less than the average income in countries with a majoritarian electoral system.

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