The Korean Journal of Economic Studies
Why Does Democracy Fail to Redistribute?: Focusing on Institutionalist Political Economy and Régulation Theory
Hwan-Joo Seo (Hanyang University)Year 2018Vol. 66No. 3
This paper examines interactions between the economic and politicalspheres, focusing on income inequality, a recent topic of interest by manyresearchers. In particular, unlike Meltzer-Richard (1981), the reasonsredistribution policy does not work well under democracy despite increasingincome inequality are examined from a “political economy” viewpoint. Thispaper examines the interactions between politics, economics and nations-acombined perspective that has not hitherto attracted much attention ineconomics-and how conflicts among these three areas affect the adoption andimplementation of income redistribution policy. We analyze income inequality,but we are mainly interested in how interactions between the political andeconomic domains lead to income inequality, rather than income inequalityitself. In other words, we use an eco-political lens to view the problems ofincome inequality and redistribution. We take the position that incomeinequality and income redistribution are affected by the institutions, policiesand laws created by the political system, and that these institutions, policiesand laws are determined by the distribution of sociopolitical group power. Theinstitutions and policies thus established determine the distribution of power ofsociopolitical groups. Economics has mainly been concerned with thedevelopment of sophisticated policy, assuming that political problems havealready been adequately worked out. However, we have focused on thecomplex political processes behind redistribution that take place throughclashes of interests, and have looked at how policy decisions are made, whomakes those decisions and why they make them.