Lucy Barnes, UCL, "Trade and Redistribution: Two-Dimensional Interests and the Origins of Progressive Taxation"

Wednesday 9th of November
Time: 13.00 (lunch available from 12.30)
Room 216, Department of Politics, Elmfield Building

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What explains variation in the progressivity of taxation before World War I? This was a period of huge change in the tax systems of some-- but not all-- European countries. Drawing on theories of redistribution under two-dimensional competition, and the long-standing empirical canon linking trade interests to political coalitions, I argue that not only `vertical' economic interests but also trade policy preferences shaped the politics of progressive taxation. Where trade politics divided political elites, and labour could provide an ally on this dimension, the inclusion of labour in trade policy coalitions meant compromise with their redistributive demands: progressive taxes. I investigate the implications of this argument in a detailed analysis of parliamentary votes on the 1909 `People's Budget' in the United Kingdom. The relationships between structural economic characteristics and progressivity outcomes that the argument predicts are also reflected in cross-national time-series cross-sectional data from western Europe between 1890 and 1913.