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Huber and Stanig on how compassionate conservatism hurts the secular poor

Abstract: We analyze how institutions that establish the level of separation of church and state should influence the political economy of redistribution. Our formal model describes how incentives for charitable giving, coupled with church-state institutions, create opportunities for the rich to form coalitions with the religious poor, at the expense of the secular poor. In our analysis, religion can limit redistribution — not because of the particular faith, belief or risk attitudes of religious individuals (as emphasized by others) — but rather because of simple material greed among the rich and the religious poor. We explore how church-state separation will mediate efforts by the rich to form electoral coalitions with the religious poor, as well as the implications for the size of government, charitable giving, and the welfare of various social groups.

John Huber and Piero Stanig (2007), “Redistribution through Taxes and Charity: The Cost of “Compassionate Conservatism” to the Secular Poor,” unpublished paper. Available here.

Via Andrew Gelman.

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