Daron Acemoglu, Suresh Naidu, Pascual Restrepo, James A Robinson07 February 2014
Inequality is currently a prominent topic of debate in Western democracies. In democratic countries, we might expect rising inequality to be partially offset by an increase in political support for redistribution. This column argues that the relationship between democracy, redistribution, and inequality is more complicated than that. Elites in newly democratised countries may hold on to power in other ways, the liberalisation of occupational choice may increase inequality among previously excluded groups, and the middle classes may redistribute income away from the poor as well as the rich.
There is a great deal of concern at the moment about the consequences of rising levels of inequality in North America and Western Europe. Will this lead to an oligarchisation of the political system, and imperil political and social stability? Many find such dynamics puzzling given that it is happening in democratic countries. In democratic societies, there ought to be political mechanisms that can inhibit or reverse large rises in inequality, most likely through the fiscal system.
Why do candidates move along the political spectrum?
Richard Holden, Alberto Alesina22 September 2008
In theory, presidential candidates should clearly articulate their platforms as they move to persuade the median voter. But candidates are often ambiguous and do not tack to the centre. Recent research documents how money-politics pulls candidates away from the median and encourages ambiguity.
The most famous result in political science (Downs 1957) is that in a two candidate electoral race the two contestants should move toward the middle of the political spectrum. More precisely they should propose the policy preferred by the median voter. Given that this is the best strategy for the two candidates, they should be as clear as possible on what they are doing and eliminate every uncertainty about their platforms.
Several recent studies (Anderson and Winters 2008, World Bank 2006) have pointed out that substantial gains can be achieved from the liberalisation of international migration flows, both for sending and receiving countries.1 At the same time, recent estimates (Goldin and Reinert 2006), suggest that only 11 million individuals, i.e. just one in six hundred migrate each year. The stock of migrants is larger.
Provided that the income gap between poor sending countries and rich destination countries continues to be very pronounced and transport and communication costs have drastically declined compared to one hundred years ago, it appears that restrictive migration policies are key determinants of the limited flows actually observed. The authors of CEPR DP6835 examine the process through which individual attitudes are mapped into these immigration policy outcomes in democratic societies.
According to recent estimates, about 11 million individuals migrate each year. Although this might look as a large number, it implies that worldwide only one in six hundred individuals changes country of residence over a twelve months period. Provided that the income gap between poor sending countries and rich destination countries continues to be very pronounced and transport and communication costs have drastically declined compared to one hundred years ago, it appears that restrictive migration policies are key determinants of the limited flows actually observed.
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