Does Distributional Skewness Lead to Redistribution? Evidence from the United States


F. C. Rodrigìuez Department of Economics, University of Maryland at College Park


This paper presents time-series, cross-section, and historical evidence from the United States to test whether distributional skewness leads to the adoption of redistributive policies. On all accounts the theory performs poorly: we fail to find evidence either of a long-run stable relationship or of short-run causation between distributional skewness and redistribution in the time-series data; the cross-section data uncover no correlation between skewness and welfare spending or support of the Democratic Party; and analysis of the historical evidence shows that key changes in redistributive institutions in the United States were not preceded by increases in distributional skewness.