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B45 - Equity1 The Economics of the Public Sector Social Insurance, Redistribution and Merit Goods.

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Presentation on theme: "B45 - Equity1 The Economics of the Public Sector Social Insurance, Redistribution and Merit Goods."— Presentation transcript:

1 B45 - Equity1 The Economics of the Public Sector Social Insurance, Redistribution and Merit Goods

2 B45 - Equity2 EQUITY - Redistribution Why is the allocation of resources resulting from the market operation inequitable? Why is equity a problem of the government?

3 B45 - Equity3 There are two important aspects to consider: i) Achieving a more equitable allocation of resources than the one produced by the market may or may not be desirable. It depends on the values of each person. ii) If we think that the market outcome is efficient but not equitable and the government needs to intervene, then very often this implies that the new more equitable allocation of resources is also less efficient – equity is costly.

4 B45 - Equity4 Equity has Efficiency Costs Most government interventions in the market imply some kind of distortion in incentives. If incentives were conducive of efficiency to start with, then distorting them is likely to produce inefficiencies. It is important to acknowledge and quantify these distortions in order to understand the costs of redistribution programs, which can be very high. For example, progressive taxation distorts incentives to work at the top of the income distribution, while welfare programs distort these incentives at low income levels.

5 B45 - Equity5 Different Individuals have Different Views on Equity Then, which one should we adopt? How equitable is equitable enough? How much inefficiency are we willing to trade-off for a given increase in equity? Different individuals have different preferences. We need a mechanism to aggregate preferences of individuals into a social preference (social welfare function).

6 B45 - Equity6 There are two extremes we can think of: tyranny and direct democracy. However, there are many other ways to aggregate preferences, that do not even correspond to a particular political system. Even if we can construct such a social welfare function, do we usually think of the government as exercising the will of society (maximizing the social welfare function)? We will see this in more detail when we study public choice.

7 B45 - Equity7 Social Insurance There is a related topic which is related with redistribution but has different characteristics: Social Insurance. All of us can experience several random events that put us at a disadvantage. Two of the most important ones are health problems and unemployment. Because these events occur randomly one would like to insure against them. However, insurance markets do not always function perfectly.

8 B45 - Equity8 Another important type of uncertainty concerns old age. Since the date of death is random it is not easy to make adequate provisions for retirement. Again, one would like to have access to adequate private insurance markets, but often they do not exist. Social insurance systems are designed to be self-financing. In that respect they are different from other social programs.

9 B45 - Equity9 Why does the market fail to provide insurance? 1. Some aggregate risks are hard to insure 2. Because of Adverse Selection bad risks are priced out of the market. 3. Because of Moral Hazard insurance is only partial.

10 B45 - Equity10 Merit Goods These are goods that the government believes individuals should consume more of (or less of) what they currently consume. The reason individuals do not consume adequate quantities of these goods is because, even though they are good for them, they do not know better and make bad decisions. This may be one reason (but not the only one) for compulsory schooling. In these cases we say that the government acts paternalistically.

11 B45 - Equity11 Some examples 1. Compulsory Schooling 2. Forced Savings and Retirement Benefits 3. Public Television

12 B45 - Equity12 Redistributive Programs There exist several redistributive programs. The most obvious are welfare programs that provide cash, goods and services to poor households. There exists substantial debate on two issues: a. In-kind vs. Cash Transfers b. Categorical vs. Broad Based Aid

13 B45 - Equity13 In-Kind Transfers are Inefficient Suppose we have a household choosing how much to consume of food and childcare. This household can receive cash or income transfers that change the budget constraint.

14 B45 - Equity14 Cash Transfer

15 B45 - Equity15 In-Kind Transfer – Unconstrained Household

16 B45 - Equity16 In Kind Transfer – Constrained Household

17 B45 - Equity17 Why then do governments make in-kind transfers? 1. Paternalism – Provide incentives for consumption of desirable goods 2. Target Particular Groups of the Population (such as Children) In developing countries there are similar programs called conditional cash transfers.

18 B45 - Equity18 Categorical vs. Broad Based Aid (Targeted vs. Universal Programs) The main issue is targeting. Targeting is often useful to decrease deadweight losses of programs, or increase their efficacy. However, targeting may be administratively costly, it is difficult to do because of lack of information, and it may induce perverse incentives (incentives to become a member of the targeted group). Furthermore, targeted programs may also be seen as less fair than universal programs.

19 B45 - Equity19 Incentive Problems Most welfare programs can have perverse incentives on work, fertility and education decisions. Ex. 1. Means Tested Welfare Programs – impose high marginal tax rates on poor individuals because they lose benefits when their income rises.

20 B45 - Equity20 Ex. 2. Aid to Single Mothers – decreases the cost of out of wedlock childbearing Ex. 3. Subsidies to Work – increase incentives to work but decrease incentives to accumulate human capital in school (although it encourages accumulation of human capital on the job through work experience).

21 B45 - Equity21 Measurement I: Measurements of Inequality in the UK

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33 B45 - Equity33 Measurement II: Inequality, Mobility and Intergenerational Mobility

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37 B45 - Equity37 Measurement III: Short and Long Run Poverty

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46 B45 - Equity46 Measurement IV: Data on Public Expenditures

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