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

The Ramsey Rule Reconsidered


Author Info

  • Randall G. Holcombe

    (Florida State University)


The Ramsey rule for optimal excise taxation suggests that goods should be taxed in inverse proportion to their elasticities of demand. This analysis shows that when the political process that determines tax rates is taken into account, the Ramsey rule may not be superior to a fiscal constitution that specifies that all goods are taxed at the same rate. The information necessary to set taxes in conformance with the Ramsey rule is not directly observable, which will lead to rent-seeking activities as interest groups try to influence the political determination of tax rates they face. Furthermore, incentives in the political process work against setting taxes according to the Ramsey rule. Building on Buchanan’s work on optimal taxation and the nature of the fiscal constitution, the Ramsey rule should be reconsidered as a guide to optimal excise tax policy.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Article provided by in its journal Public Finance Review.

Volume (Year): 30 (2002)
Issue (Month): 6 (November)
Pages: 562-578

as in new window
Handle: RePEc:sae:pubfin:v:30:y:2002:i:6:p:562-578

Contact details of provider:

Related research



No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.


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

Cited by:
  1. Gerda Dewit & Dermot Leahy, 2008. "Tax uniformity: A commitment device for restraining opportunistic behaviour," Economics, Finance and Accounting Department Working Paper Series n1971108.pdf, Department of Economics, Finance and Accounting, National University of Ireland - Maynooth.


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


Access and download statistics


When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:sae:pubfin:v:30:y:2002:i:6:p:562-578. 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: (SAGE Publications).

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.