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Spreading the Wealth Around: Reflections Inspired by Joe the Plumber

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  • N Gregory Mankiw

    ()
    (Department of Economics, 223 Littauer Center, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.)

Abstract

This essay discusses the policy debate concerning optimal taxation and the distribution of income. It begins with a brief overview of trends in income inequality, the leading hypothesis to explain these trends, and the distribution of the tax burden. It then considers the normative question of how the tax system should be designed. The conventional utilitarian framework is found to be wanting, as it leads to prescriptions that conflict with many individuals’ moral intuitions. The essay then explores an alternative normative framework, dubbed the Just Deserts Theory, according to which an individual's compensation should reflect his or her social contribution.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Palgrave Macmillan in its journal Eastern Economic Journal.

Volume (Year): 36 (2010 Summer)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 285-298

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Handle: RePEc:pal:easeco:v:36:y:2010:i:3:p:285-298

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Cited by:
  1. Marika Karanassou & Hector Sala, 2012. "Inequality and Employment Sensitivities to the Falling Labour Share," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 43(3), pages 343-376.
  2. Benjamin B. Lockwood & Matthew Weinzierl, 2014. "Positive and Normative Judgments Implicit in U.S. Tax Policy, and the Costs of Unequal Growth and Recessions," Harvard Business School Working Papers, Harvard Business School 14-119, Harvard Business School.
  3. Thomas Cornelißen & Oliver Himmler & Tobias Koenig, 2012. "Fairness Spillovers – The Case of Taxation," Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2012_17, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
  4. Robert Lepenies, 2014. "Economists as political philosophers : a critique of normative trade theory," RSCAS Working Papers, European University Institute 2014/11, European University Institute.

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