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Rational ignorance and the public choice of redistribution

By Valentino Larcinese

Abstract

This paper studies the role of citizens’ demand for political information in elections and provides a possible explanation for the poor empirical support encountered by political economy models of income redistribution. It shows that incentives to gather political information may derive from its relevance to private choices. Under quite mild assumptions, the demand for political information is increasing in income. Information affects citizens’ responsiveness to electoral platforms, and vote-seeking political parties should take this into account: as a consequence, redistribution will generally be less than predicted by the median voter theorem. Moreover, in contrast with what most literature seems to take for granted, an increase in inequality will not unambigously increase redistribution. Finally, introducing endogenous information may lead some policy restrictions to have effects quite different from those intended

Topics: HJ Public Finance
Publisher: Bance D'Italia
Year: 2002
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.lse.ac.uk:4742
Provided by: LSE Research Online
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