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The Failure of Ricardian Equivalence Under Progressive Wealth Taxation

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  • Andrew Abel

Abstract

Although the Ricardian Equivalence Theorem holds under a linear estate tax schedule, it fails to hold under a nonlinear estate tax schedule. In a representative consumer economy, a temporary lump-sum tax increase reduces contemporaneous consumption. If different consumers face different marginal estate tax rates because they leave bequests of different sizes, a lump-sum tax increase redistributes resources from consumers in low marginal estate tax brackets to consumers in high marginal estate tax brackets; aggregate consumption may rise, fall, or remain unchanged. These departures from Ricardian Equivalence hold more generally under any nonlinear tax on saving, wealth or income accruing to wealth.

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Paper provided by Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research in its series Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers with number 22-86.

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Handle: RePEc:fth:pennfi:22-86

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  1. Bernheim, B Douglas & Bagwell, Kyle, 1988. "Is Everything Neutral?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(2), pages 308-38, April.
  2. Burbidge, John B, 1983. "Government Debt in an Overlapping-Generations Model with Bequests and Gifts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(1), pages 222-27, March.
  3. Robert B. Barsky & N. Gregory Mankiw & Stephen P. Zeldes, 1987. "Ricardian Consumers With Keynesian Propensities," NBER Working Papers 1400, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Barro, Robert J, 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1095-1117, Nov.-Dec..
  5. Martin Feldstein & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 2001. "Social Security," NBER Working Papers 8451, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    • Feldstein, Martin & Liebman, Jeffrey B., 2002. "Social security," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 32, pages 2245-2324 Elsevier.
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Cited by:
  1. Artidiatun Adji & James Alm & Paul J. Ferraro, 2009. "Experimental tests of Ricardian equivalence with distortionary versus nondistortionary taxes," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 29(4), pages 2556-2572.

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