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Regulation and rent‐seeking: The role of the distribution of political and economic power


Journal of Public Economic Theory

Published online on


It is shown that the joint distribution of economic and political power plays a key role in determining regulatory and tax policies of national and subnational governments. If both economic and political power are evenly distributed across individuals, then regulatory and tax policies are efficient, but if they are unevenly distributed and positively correlated, then regulatory policy is used by subnational governments to redistribute income in favor of individuals with higher economic and political power at the expense of productivity and output. Consequently, the national government has to raise the tax rate to finance public expenditure. Moreover, if there exists a positive correlation between economic and political power, then the higher the fiscal gap, the larger the gap between equilibrium and efficient policies because subnational governments underestimate more the fall of public revenues caused by inefficient policies.