IZA DP No. 5241: Relative Income, Redistribution and Well-being
In a model with heterogeneous workers and both intensive and extensive margins of employment, we consider two systems of redistribution: a universal basic income, and a categorical unemployment benefit. Well-being depends on own-consumption relative to average employed workers’ consumption, and concern for relativity is a parameter that affects model outcomes. While labour supply incurs positive marginal disutility, we allow negative welfare effects of unemployment. We also compare Rawlsian and utilitarian welfare in general equilibrium under the polar opposite transfer systems, with varying concern for relativity. Basic income Pareto dominates categorical benefits with moderate concern for relativity in both cases.