Generational Conflict? Some Cross-Country Evidence
The generational conflict hypothesis predicts that the elderly might use their political power to reduce public resources allocated to children. It is usually tested by exploiting the localized nature of school funding in the US. This paper takes a different approach using cross-country data on family benefits. The evidence points to a positive relation between the generosity of these benefits and the share of the elderly in the electorate of the country. The effects that other studies have found at the local level are thus not observed at the national one. The difference in approach and findings between this paper and previous ones can contribute to the debate on local school funding. The paper also suggests that the effect of the elderly may reflect the larger proportion of women in that age group.