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The Price of Egalitarianism

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  • Chang Yongsung

    ()
    (University of Rochester and Yonsei University)

  • Kim Sun-Bin

    ()
    (Yonsei University)

Abstract

Using a standard incomplete-markets model, we compute the welfare of two socioeconomic systems: laissez-faire and egalitarianism. The egalitarian system (in which after-tax wages are compressed) provides insurance against income risks but at the cost of inefficiency: it undermines productive workers' incentives to work. When the stochastic process of idiosyncratic productivity shocks are calibrated to match the earnings inequality, the egalitarian society yields a much higher welfare as the insurance benefit dominates the efficiency loss. However, when the idiosyncratic productivity shocks are calibrated to capture the ex-post heterogeneity of earnings only, households are better off under laissez-faire if the labor supply is elastic enough. Transition between the two regimes is computed. When the wage compression is removed from the egalitarian steady state, the inequality emerges quickly and reaches its laissez-faire steady state in 20 years.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by De Gruyter in its journal The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics.

Volume (Year): 11 (2012)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 1-24

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Handle: RePEc:bpj:bejmac:v:11:y:2012:i:1:n:42

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  1. Josep Pijoan-Mas, 2006. "Precautionary Savings or Working Longer Hours?," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 9(2), pages 326-352, April.
  2. David Domeij & Jonathan Heathcote, 2004. "On The Distributional Effects Of Reducing Capital Taxes," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(2), pages 523-554, 05.
  3. Yongsung Chang & Sun-Bin Kim, 2003. "From individual to aggregate labor supply : a quantitative analysis based on a heterogeneous agent macroeconomy," Working Paper 03-05, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
  4. Heathcote, Jonathan & Storesletten, Kjetil & Violante, Giovanni L., 2008. "Insurance and opportunities: A welfare analysis of labor market risk," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(3), pages 501-525, April.
  5. Young, Eric R., 2004. "Unemployment insurance and capital accumulation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(8), pages 1683-1710, November.
  6. Yongsung Chang & Sun-Bin Kim, 2007. "Heterogeneity and Aggregation: Implications for Labor-Market Fluctuations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(5), pages 1939-1956, December.
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