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How to Protect Future Generations Using Tax-Base Restrictions

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  • Antonio Rangel
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    Abstract

    This paper studies how to protect future generations from expropriation and to induce optimal investment in intergenerational public goods (IPGs), by introducing constitutional restrictions on the tax base. The type of tax-base restrictions that we consider places limits on the tax instruments that the government can use to raise revenue, but not on the level of expenditures or debt. We show that the introduction of a constitutional amendment requiring that IPGs and debt be financed with land taxes makes intergenerational expropriation impossible and, for many cases of interest, induces optimal investment in IPGs. We also show that a weaker constitutional amendment requiring that IPGs be financed with land taxes, but imposing no restrictions on how to finance the debt, has a positive impact on IPGs, but not on expropriation. The paper also studies the political feasibility of these reforms. We show that the first reform is not politically feasible since it hurts current generations, but the weaker reform can induce a Pareto improvement.

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    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/0002828053828527
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

    Volume (Year): 95 (2005)
    Issue (Month): 1 (March)
    Pages: 314-346

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    Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:95:y:2005:i:1:p:314-346

    Note: DOI: 10.1257/0002828053828527
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    References

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    1. Auerbach, Alan J. & Hines, James Jr., 2002. "Taxation and economic efficiency," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 21, pages 1347-1421 Elsevier.
    2. Edward L. Glaeser, 1995. "The Incentive Effects of Property Taxes on Local Governments," NBER Working Papers 4987, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Altonji, Joseph G & Hayashi, Fumio & Kotlikoff, Laurence J, 1997. "Parental Altruism and Inter Vivos Transfers: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(6), pages 1121-66, December.
    4. Alan J. Auerbach & Jagadeesh Gokhale & Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 1991. "Generational Accounts: A Meaningful Alternative to Deficit Accounting," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 5, pages 55-110 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Joseph G. Altonji & Fumio Hayashi & Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 1989. "Is the Extended Family Altruistically Linked? Direct Tests Using Micro Data," NBER Working Papers 3046, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Feldstein, Martin S, 1977. "The Surprising Incidence of a Tax on Pure Rent: A New Answer to an Old Question," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(2), pages 349-60, April.
    7. Jaffee, Dwight M & Russell, Thomas, 1976. "Imperfect Information, Uncertainty, and Credit Rationing," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 90(4), pages 651-66, November.
    8. Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Robert W. Rosenthal, 1993. "Some Inefficiency Implications Of Generational Politics And Exchange," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 5(1), pages 27-42, 03.
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    Cited by:
    1. Gersbach, Hans & Kleinschmidt, Tobias, 2009. "Power to youth: Designing democracy for long-term well-being," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 158-172, September.
    2. Parry, Ian W.H., 2007. "Are the costs of reducing greenhouse gases from passenger vehicles negative?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 273-293, September.
    3. Christian A. L. Hilber, 2010. "New Housing Supply and the Dilution of Social Capital," SERC Discussion Papers 0042, Spatial Economics Research Centre, LSE.
    4. Marko Köthenbürger & Panu Poutvaara, 2007. "Rent Taxation and its Intertemporal Welfare Effects in a Small Open Economy," CESifo Working Paper Series 2158, CESifo Group Munich.
    5. Marco Bassetto, 2009. "The Research Agenda: Marco Bassetto on the Quantitative Evaluation of Fiscal Policy Rules," EconomicDynamics Newsletter, Review of Economic Dynamics, vol. 10(2), April.
    6. Springer, Job D. & Lusby, Aaron K. & Leatherman, John C. & Featherstone, Allen M., 2007. "Property Tax Lids and the Effect on Kansas," 2007 Annual Meeting, February 4-7, 2007, Mobile, Alabama 34887, Southern Agricultural Economics Association.
    7. Marco Bassetto & Thomas J. Sargent, 2005. "Politics and efficiency of separating capital and ordinary Government budgets," Working Paper Series WP-05-07, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    8. Köthenbürger, Marko & Poutvaara, Panu, 2006. "Social security reform and investment in education: Is there scope for a Pareto improvement?," Munich Reprints in Economics 19487, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    9. Gersbach, Hans, 2007. "Minority Voting and Public Project Provision," Economics Discussion Papers 2007-20, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.

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