The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
The paper examines empirically the question of whether more unequal societies spend more on income redistribution than their more egalitarian counterparts. Theoretical arguments on this issue are inconclusive. The political economy literature suggests that redistributive spending is higher in unequal societies due to median voter preferences. Alternatively, it can be argued that unequal societies may spend less on redistribution because of capital market imperfections. Based on different data sources, the cross-country evidence reported in this paper suggests that more unequal societies do spend less on redistribution.