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Three Sides of Harberger Triangles

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  • James R. Hines

Abstract

Harberger triangles are used to calculate the efficiency costs of taxes, government regulations, monopolistic practices, and various other market distortions. This paper considers the historical development of Harberger triangles, the associated theoretical controversies, and the contribution of Harberger triangles to subsequent empirical work and theories of market imperfections. Prior to the publication of Arnold Harberger's papers, economists very rarely estimated deadweight losses. The empirical deadweight loss literature expanded greatly since the 1960s, making such estimation now quite common. Meanwhile, critical evaluation of deadweight loss estimates led to new theories of rent-seeking and other inefficiencies of economies with multiple distortions.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.13.2.167
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Volume (Year): 13 (1999)
Issue (Month): 2 (Spring)
Pages: 167-188

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Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:13:y:1999:i:2:p:167-188

Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.13.2.167
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  1. Charles L. Ballard & Don Fullerton & John B. Shoven & John Whalley, 1985. "A General Equilibrium Model for Tax Policy Evaluation," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number ball85-1, octubre-d.
  2. Alan J. Auerbach, 1982. "The Theory of Excess Burden and Optimal Taxation," NBER Working Papers 1025, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Charles L. Ballard & John B. Shoven & John Whalley, 1982. "The Welfare Cost of Distortions in the United States Tax System: A General Equilibrium Approach," NBER Working Papers 1043, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Bovenberg, A Lans & de Mooij, Ruud A, 1997. "Environmental Levies and Distortionary Taxation: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(1), pages 252-53, March.
  5. Breslaw, Jon A & Smith, J Barry, 1995. "A Simple and Efficient Method for Estimating the Magnitude and Precision of Welfare Changes," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 10(3), pages 313-27, July-Sept.
  6. de Bovenberg, A Lans & Mooij, Ruud A, 1994. "Environmental Levies and Distortionary Taxation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 1085-89, September.
  7. Vartia, Yrjo O, 1983. "Efficient Methods of Measuring Welfare Change and Compensated Income in Terms of Ordinary Demand Functions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(1), pages 79-98, January.
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