Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

The Vanishing Bequest Tax: The Comparative Evolution Of Bequest Taxation In Historical Perspective

Contents:

Author Info

  • GRAZIELLA BERTOCCHI

Abstract

Several countries have recently abolished or significantly reduced their taxes on bequests. Bequest taxes, on the other hand, were among the first to be introduced when modern systems of taxation were developed at the end of the nineteenth century. We propose an explanation for these facts which is based on a dynamic political economy model where redistribution is determined not only by wealth inequality but also by sectoral reallocation from agriculture to manufacturing. The model shows that the dynamics of capital accumulation induce a reduction of wealth inequality, which is further accelerated by the redistributive impact of the bequest tax. Through a standard politico-economic mechanism, wealth equalization pushes toward a reduced role of the bequest tax. At the same time, however, a second mechanism is at work, with structural reallocation from agriculture to manufacturing shifting the tax base from hard-to-avoid taxes on land toward easy-to-avoid taxes on capital. The differential treatment of land and capital introduces a source of asymmetry in the tax system which interferes with the determination of the dynamic political equilibrium of the model. Its effect is to compress bequest taxation but also to delay its gradual reduction due to declining wealth inequality. A number of extensions to the basic model allow to match our theory with the long-term evolution of bequest taxation in modern democracies and with the drastic discrepancies currently observed between tax systems in developed and underdeveloped countries.

(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

Download Info

To our knowledge, this item is not available for download. To find whether it is available, there are three options:
1. Check below under "Related research" whether another version of this item is available online.
2. Check on the provider's web page whether it is in fact available.
3. Perform a search for a similarly titled item that would be available.

Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal Economics & Politics.

Volume (Year): 23 (2011)
Issue (Month): 1 (03)
Pages: 107-131

as in new window
Handle: RePEc:bla:ecopol:v:23:y:2011:i:1:p:107-131

Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/journal.asp?ref=0954-1985

Order Information:
Web: http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/subs.asp?ref=0954-1985

Related research

Keywords:

Other versions of this item:

Find related papers by JEL classification:

References

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
as in new window
  1. Saint-Paul, Gilles & Verdier, Thierry, 1992. "Education, Democracy and Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 613, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Jonathan Eaton, 1987. "A Dynamic Specific-Factors Model of International Trade," NBER Working Papers 1479, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Emmanuel Farhi & Iván Werning, 2010. "Progressive Estate Taxation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 125(2), pages 635-673, May.
  4. Galor, Oded & Zeira, Joseph, 1993. "Income Distribution and Macroeconomics," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(1), pages 35-52, January.
  5. Alan J. Auerbach, 2006. "Why Have Corporate Tax Revenues Declined? Another Look," NBER Working Papers 12463, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Frankema, Ewout, 2006. "The Colonial Origins of Inequality: Exploring the Causes and Consequences of Land Distribution," GGDC Research Memorandum GD-81, Groningen Growth and Development Centre, University of Groningen.
  7. Helmuth Cremer & Pierre Pestieau, 2003. "Wealth Transfer Taxation: A Survey," CESifo Working Paper Series 1061, CESifo Group Munich.
  8. Jess Benhabib & Alberto Bisin, 2006. "The distribution of wealth and redistributive policies," 2006 Meeting Papers 368, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  9. Aaron, Henry J. & Munnell, Alicia H., 1992. "Reassessing the Role for Wealth Transfer Taxes," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 45(2), pages 119-43, June.
  10. Burgess, Robin & Stern, Nicholas, 1993. "Taxation and Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(2), pages 762-830, June.
  11. Jack, William & Lagunoff, Roger, 2006. "Dynamic enfranchisement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(4-5), pages 551-572, May.
  12. Kotlikoff, Laurence J & Summers, Lawrence H, 1981. "The Role of Intergenerational Transfers in Aggregate Capital Accumulation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 706-32, August.
  13. Wojciech Kopczuk, 2003. "The Trick Is to Live: Is the Estate Tax Social Security for the Rich?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(6), pages 1318-1341, December.
  14. Roland Benabou, 2000. "Unequal Societies: Income Distribution and the Social Contract," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 96-129, March.
  15. Arie Kapteyn & Constantijn Panis, 2003. "The Size and Composition of Wealth Holdings in the United States, Italy, and the Netherlands," NBER Working Papers 10182, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Marina Azzimonti & Eva de Francisco & Per Krusell, 2006. "Median-voter Equilibria in the Neoclassical Growth Model under Aggregation," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 108(4), pages 587-606, December.
  17. Joshua Aizenman & Yothin Jinjarak, 2006. "Globalization and Developing Countries - A Shrinking Tax Base?," NBER Working Papers 11933, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Saku Aura, 2004. "Estate and Capital Gains Taxation: Efficiency and Political Economy Considerations," Working Papers 0408, Department of Economics, University of Missouri, revised 16 Dec 2004.
  19. Oded Galor & Omer Moav & Dietrich Vollrath, 2009. "Inequality in Landownership, the Emergence of Human-Capital Promoting Institutions, and the Great Divergence," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 76(1), pages 143-179.
  20. Bertocchi, Graziella & Spagat, Michael, 1998. "The Evolution of Modern Educational Systems: Technical Vs. General Education, Distributional Conflict and Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 1925, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  21. Kopczuk, Wojciech & Saez, Emmanuel, 2004. "Top Wealth Shares in the United States, 1916-2000: Evidence from Estate Tax Returns," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 57(2), pages 445-87, June.
  22. Bertocchi, Graziella & Spagat, Michael, 2001. "The Politics of Co-optation," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 591-607, December.
  23. Mariacristina De Nardi, 2004. "Wealth Inequality and Intergenerational Links," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(3), pages 743-768.
  24. Chamley, Christophe, 1986. "Optimal Taxation of Capital Income in General Equilibrium with Infinite Lives," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(3), pages 607-22, May.
  25. Sexauer, Martin & Kleiber, Christian & Wälde, Klaus, 2005. "Bequests, taxation and the distribution of wealth in a general equilibrium model," W.E.P. - Würzburg Economic Papers 61, University of Würzburg, Chair for Monetary Policy and International Economics.
  26. Alessandro Lizzeri & Nicola Persico, 2004. "Why Did the Elites Extend the Suffrage? Democracy and the Scope of Government, With an Application to Britain's "Age of Reform"," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(2), pages 705-763, May.
  27. Alan J. Auerbach & James M. Poterba, 1987. "Why Have Corporate Tax Revenues Declined?," NBER Working Papers 2118, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  28. Wolff, Edward N, 1996. "International Comparisons of Wealth Inequality," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 42(4), pages 433-51, December.
  29. Douglas Gollin & Stephen Parente & Richard Rogerson, 2002. "The Role of Agriculture in Development," Department of Economics Working Papers 2002-09, Department of Economics, Williams College.
  30. Jose-Victor Rios-Rull & Per Krusell, 1999. "On the Size of U.S. Government: Political Economy in the Neoclassical Growth Model," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1156-1181, December.
  31. John Hassler & José V. Rodríguez Mora & Kjetil Storesletten & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2003. "The Survival of the Welfare State," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 87-112, March.
  32. Oded Galor & Omer Moav & Dietrich Vollrath, 2005. "Land Inequality and the Emergence of Human Capital Promoting Institutions," Development and Comp Systems 0502018, EconWPA.
  33. William G. Gale & Joel B. Slemrod, 2001. "Rethinking the Estate and Gift Tax: Overview," NBER Working Papers 8205, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  34. Javier Díaz-Giménez & Vincenzo Quadrini & José-Víctor Ríos-Rull, 1997. "Dimensions of inequality: facts on the U.S. distributions of earnings, income, and wealth," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Spr, pages 3-21.
  35. Meltzer, Allan H & Richard, Scott F, 1981. "A Rational Theory of the Size of Government," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 914-27, October.
  36. Laitner, John, 2001. "Secular Changes in Wealth Inequality and Inheritance," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(474), pages 691-721, October.
  37. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1994. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 600-621, June.
  38. Humberto Llavador & Robert J. Oxoby, 2004. "Partisan Competition, Growth and the Franchise," Working Papers 109, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  39. Atkinson, Anthony B & Gordon, James P F & Harrison, Alan, 1989. "Trends in the Shares of Top Wealth-Holders in Britain, 1923-1981," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 51(3), pages 315-32, August.
  40. Alesina, Alberto F & Rodrik, Dani, 1991. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 565, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  41. Bertocchi, Graziella, 2003. "The Law of Primogeniture and the Transition from Landed Aristocracy to Industrial Democracy," CEPR Discussion Papers 3723, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  42. Atkinson, A. B. & Piketty, Thomas (ed.), 2007. "Top Incomes Over the Twentieth Century: A Contrast Between Continental European and English-Speaking Countries," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199286881.
  43. Alberto Alesina & Edward Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote, 2001. "Why Doesn't the United States Have a European-Style Welfare State?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 32(2), pages 187-278.
  44. Acemoglu, Daron & Robinson, James A, 1998. "Why did the West Extend the Franchise? Democracy, Inequality and Growth in Historical Perspective," CEPR Discussion Papers 1797, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  45. Blumkin, Tomer & Sadka, Efraim, 2004. "Estate taxation with intended and accidental bequests," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(1-2), pages 1-21, January.
  46. Satya P. Das & Chetan Ghate, 2003. "Endogenous distribution, politics and the growth-equity tradeoff," Indian Statistical Institute, Planning Unit, New Delhi Discussion Papers 03-06, Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi, India.
  47. Cervellati, Matteo & Fortunato, Piergiuseppe & Sunde, Uwe, 2005. "Hobbes to Rousseau: Inequality, Institutions, and Development," IZA Discussion Papers 1450, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  48. Justman, Moshe & Gradstein, Mark, 1999. "The Industrial Revolution, Political Transition, and the Subsequent Decline in Inequality in 19th-Century Britain," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 109-127, April.
  49. Piketty, Thomas & Saez, Emmanuel, 2006. "How Progessive is the US Federal Tax System? An Historical and International Perspective," CEPR Discussion Papers 5778, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  50. Lindert Peter H., 1994. "The Rise of Social Spending, 1880-1930," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 1-37, January.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

Citations

Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
  1. Marius Brülhart & Raphaël Parchet, 2010. "Alleged Tax Competition: The Mysterious Death of InheritanceTaxes in Switzerland," Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'Econométrie et d'Economie politique (DEEP) 10.04, Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP.
  2. José Mª Durán Cabré & Alejandro Esteller Moré, 2007. "An empirical analysis of wealth taxation: Equity Vs.tax compliance," Working Papers XREAP2007-03, Xarxa de Referència en Economia Aplicada (XREAP), revised Jun 2007.
  3. Brülhart, Marius & Parchet, Raphaël, 2014. "Alleged tax competition: The mysterious death of bequest taxes in Switzerland," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 63-78.
  4. Richard Bird, 2008. "Tax Challenges Facing Developing Countries," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper0802, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
  5. Wojciech Kopczuk, 2012. "Taxation of Intergenerational Transfers and Wealth," NBER Working Papers 18584, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Jappelli, T. & Padula, M. & Pica, G., 2011. "GINI DP 21: Transfer Taxes and Inequality," GINI Discussion Papers 21, AIAS, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies.
  7. Bas van Bavel & Ewout Frankema, 2013. "Low Income Inequality, High Wealth Inequality.The Puzzle of the Rhineland Welfare States," Working Papers 0050, Utrecht University, Centre for Global Economic History.

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bla:ecopol:v:23:y:2011:i:1:p:107-131. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Wiley-Blackwell Digital Licensing) or (Christopher F. Baum).

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.