Redistribution: Politics, Law, and Policy

May 12, 13, and 14, 2016

Spring 2016 workshop: Redistribution: Politics, Law, and Policy. The theme of this gathering is the redistribution of income, with particular focus on questions that concern preferences, taxation, and state capacity.

Location: 509 O'Brian Hall, UB North Campus

Contact: Matthew Dimick, mdimick@buffalo.edu

Workshop Topics

On this page

Taxation and Redistribution

What determines individual support or opposition for political parties or politicians that favor more (or less) redistribution? What roles do self-interest motives, other regarding concerns, the risk of unemployment, risk aversion, or the racial, ethnic, or religious heterogeneity of the impacted populations play in shaping these preferences? These topics have all been subjects of recent research, so we will encourage participants to go beyond them in critical ways: testing unrealized implications of existing theories, adjudicating between competing explanations, and identifying additional, unrecognized forms of preferences.

Preferences for Redistribution

The structures and forms of taxation have potentially very significant implications for redistribution. There is also some preliminary evidence that variation in benefit progressivity exceeds variation in tax progressivity in advanced industrialized democracies. How important is tax (or benefit) progressivity in explaining levels of redistribution across countries? An emerging theme is that countries that redistribute more tend to rely on less progressive forms of taxation. Why? Progressivity is necessary for redistribution, but what explains progressivity and preferences for progressivity? Finally, what constraints do globalization and international capital flows place on capital taxation and therefore redistribution?

State Capacity and Redistribution

Redistribution is also heavily influenced by the capacity of governments to implement and carry out its stated policies. How does a government’s administrative capacity—the number efficiency of civil servants, their knowledge, training, and level of professionalization—influence redistribution? Also important in this area of research is the intertwining of both the constitutional state and the “fiscal” state in the rise of democracy. What are the history, factors, and politics of the development of an administrative state capable of taxing and redistributing?