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The Political Economy of Growth, Inequality, the Size and Composition of Government Spending

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This paper develops a dynamic general-equilibrium political-economy model for the optimal size and composition of public spending. An analytical solution is derived from majority voting for three government spending categories: public consumption goods and transfers (valued by households), as well as productive government services (complementing private capital in an endogenous-growth technology). Inequality is reflected by a discrete distribution of infinitely-lived agents that differ by their initial capital holdings. In contrast to the previous literature that derives monotonic (typically negative) relations between inequality and growth in one-dimensional voting environments, this paper establishes conditions, in an environment of multi-dimensional voting, under which a non-monotonic, inverted U-shape relation between inequality and growth is obtained. This more general result —that inequality and growth could be negatively or positively related— could be consistent with the ambiguous or inconclusive results documented in the empirical literature on the inequality-growth nexus. The paper also shows that the political-economy equilibrium obtained under multi-dimensional voting for the initial period is time-consistent.


Inequality, Endogenous growth, Multidimensional voting, Endogenous taxatio

JEL Classification

D72, E62, H11, H3