DP10086 | Democratic Redistribution and Rule of the Majority

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Does redistribution in democracies cater to the will of the majority? We propose and apply a simple empirical strategy based on survey data to address that longstanding issue. Differently from previous evaluations of the median-voter theory, ours does not assume that voters are guided by pecuniary motives alone. We find that most democracies do implement the amount of redistribution advocated by the median voter and the probability to serve the median voter increases with the quality of democracy. However, we detect a non-negligible share of democracies that implement a minority-backed amount of redistribution. Such outcomes cannot be explained by political absenteeism of the poor. They can be explained by the electoral bundling of redistribution with values and rights issues.