The Public Interest

The Real Meaning of “Income Redistribution”

Marc F. Plattner

Winter 1978

IN recent years, the issue of income redistribution has increasingly moved toward the center of public policy debate. Egalitarians who have become disillusioned with the Great Society strategy of attempting to promote equality of opportunity now are advocating income redistribution as a quick method of achieving equality of result. Political theorists are turning their attention to questions of what constitutes a “fair” distribution of income and what government may legitimately do to alter an existing distributional pattern. And economists, confronted with the enormous growth in spending on social programs over the last decade and a half, are showing heightened concern about the effects of all this transferring of income on the structure and performance of the economy.

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