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The optimal income tax when poverty is a public 'bad'

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  • Wane, Waly

Abstract

The author considers poverty as an aggregate negative externality that affects people in different ways, depending on their aversion to poverty. If society is on average averse to poverty, then the optimal income tax schedule displays negative marginal tax rates, at least for less skilled individuals. Negative marginal tax rates play the role of a Pigouvian earnings subsidy, fostering the supply of poor individuals to provide labor. The result of no distortion at the endpoints, which is therefore violated, can be restored once the focus is shifted from individual to social distortions.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

Volume (Year): 82 (2001)
Issue (Month): 2 (November)
Pages: 271-299

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Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:82:y:2001:i:2:p:271-299

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

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  1. Seade, Jesus, 1979. "Optimal Nonlinear Policies for Non-Utilitarian Motives," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 143, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  2. Kanbur, Ravi & Keen, Michael & Toumala, Matti, 1991. "Optimal non-linear income taxation for the alleviation of income poverty," Policy Research Working Paper Series 616, The World Bank.
  3. Foster, James & Greer, Joel & Thorbecke, Erik, 1984. "A Class of Decomposable Poverty Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(3), pages 761-66, May.
  4. Seade, Jesus, 1982. "On the Sign of the Optimum Marginal Income Tax," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(4), pages 637-43, October.
  5. Mirrlees, James A, 1971. "An Exploration in the Theory of Optimum Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(114), pages 175-208, April.
  6. Diamond, Peter A, 1998. "Optimal Income Taxation: An Example with a U-Shaped Pattern of Optimal Marginal Tax Rates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 83-95, March.
  7. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 1992. "Workfare versus Welfare Incentive Arguments for Work Requirements in Poverty-Alleviation Programs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(1), pages 249-61, March.
  8. Zeckhauser, Richard J, 1971. "Optimal Mechanisms for Income Transfer," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 61(3), pages 324-34, June.
  9. Besley, T. & Coate, S., 1991. "The Design Of Income Maintenance Programs," Papers 74, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - John M. Olin Program.
  10. Eissa, Nada & Liebman, Jeffrey B, 1996. "Labor Supply Response to the Earned Income Tax Credit," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(2), pages 605-37, May.
  11. Atkinson, A B, 1987. "On the Measurement of Poverty," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(4), pages 749-64, July.
  12. Ebert, Udo, 1992. "A reexamination of the optimal nonlinear income tax," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 47-73, October.
  13. Sadka, Efraim, 1976. "Social Welfare and Income Distribution," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 44(6), pages 1239-51, November.
  14. Cremer, Helmuth & Gahvari, Firouz & Ladoux, Norbert, 1998. "Externalities and optimal taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(3), pages 343-364, December.
  15. Brito, Dagobert L & Oakland, William H, 1977. "Some Properties of the Optimal Income-Tax," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 18(2), pages 407-23, June.
  16. Seade, J. K., 1977. "On the shape of optimal tax schedules," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 203-235, April.
  17. Lollivier, Stefan & Rochet, Jean-Charles, 1983. "Bunching and second-order conditions: A note on optimal tax theory," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 392-400, December.
  18. Guesnerie, Roger & Laffont, Jean-Jacques, 1984. "A complete solution to a class of principal-agent problems with an application to the control of a self-managed firm," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 329-369, December.
  19. Bourguignon, Francois & Fields, Gary, 1997. "Discontinuous losses from poverty, generalized P[alpha] measures, and optimal transfers to the poor," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 155-175, January.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Homburg, Stefan, 2002. "The Optimal Income Tax: Restatement and Extensions," Hannover Economic Papers (HEP) dp-252, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
  2. Darío Maldonado, 2006. "Social security, income taxation and poverty alleviation," REVISTA DE ECONOMÍA DEL ROSARIO, UNIVERSIDAD DEL ROSARIO.
  3. Johann K. Brunner, 2003. "Optimale direkte und indirekte Steuern bei unterschiedlicher Anfangsausstattung," Economics working papers 2003-10, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  4. Cassone, Alberto & Marchese, Carla, 2001. "Should the death tax die? And should it leave an inheritance?," POLIS Working Papers 22, Institute of Public Policy and Public Choice - POLIS.

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