Note: This is an outline of thoughts rather than some type of persuasive argument – in time I should make an effort to flesh out all the little bits in this, but it is just a run down of my current general thoughts. Take it as such and feel free to provide constructive feedback 😉
Anyone who reads this who also read my writing pre-2014 will remember that I was a strong post-distributionalist when it comes to social insurance policy. To the point where the term pre-distribution (or predistribution) did not appear on TVHE when I did a search.
Since then the economic environment has changed and I have spent more time considering these issues. So have my views changed? Let’s consider the issue.
Tl;dr No, but I think the terminology can be used more clearly. With regards to redistribution – if our concern is the distribution of income alone pre-distributionalist policies are indirect and inefficient. But pre-distribution policy prescriptions have relevance when discussing issues of transition – which is essentially insurance from shocks, and the provision of job/income security (as apart from a security net). Such insurance can be costly, but is still worth discussing in this frame. Furthermore, if we stretch the term pre-distribution far enough it becomes ridiculous – sure the whole study of economics concerns the distribution of income, but the name is used for a subfield for a reason.