The Politics of Redistributive Transfers

Do more social transfers take place in democracies than in autocracies? Marina Dodlova and Anna Giolbas investigate the connection between regime type, redistribution, and inequality in developing countries.

© Roberto Verzo/ CC BY-NC 2.0
© Roberto Verzo/ CC BY-NC 2.0

The debate on whether democracy and inequality increase the level of redistribution in a country is still ongoing. We construct a model that predicts a higher probability of redistribution in democracies than in autocracies.

Further, with higher initial inequality, there should be more redistribution in democracies but not necessarily in autocracies. We test these predictions using data on social transfers in developing countries for the period 1960-2010.

We confirm that democracy increases redistribution and, to some extent, that there is more redistribution with rising inequality. Hence, on the basis of a direct measure of redistribution, we present evidence to confirm the median voter theorem.

Marina Dodlova, Anna Giolbas: Regime Type, Inequality, and Redistributive Transfers in Developing Countries, GIGA Working Paper, No. 273, May 2015


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