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Accounting for Family Background when Designing Optimal Income Taxes: A Microeconometric Simulation Analysis

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  • Aaberge, Rolf

    ()
    (Statistics Norway)

  • Colombino, Ugo

    ()
    (University of Turin)

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to introduce and adopt a generalised version of Roemer's (1998) Equality of Opportunity (EOp) framework, which we call extended EOp, for analysing second-best optimal income taxation. Unlike the pure EOp criterion of Roemer (1998) the extended EOp criterion allows for alternative weighting profiles in the treatment of income differentials between as well as within types when types are defined by circumstances that are beyond people's control. This study uses parental education as a measure of exogenous circumstances. An empirical microeconometric model of labour supply in Italy is employed to simulate and identify income tax-transfer rules that are optimal according to the extended EOp criterion. We look for second-best optimality, i.e. the tax-transfer rules are not allowed to depend on family background, they only depend on income: family background is taken indirectly into account. The rules are defined by a universal (not individualized) lump-sum transfer (positive or negative) and by one or two marginal tax rates. A rather striking result of the analysis is that the optimal tax-transfer rule turns out to be a universal lump-sum tax (with marginal tax rates equal to zero), under Roemer's pure EOp criterion as well as under the generalised EOp criterion with moderate degrees of aversion to within-type inequality. A higher degree of within-type inequality aversion instead produces EOp-optimal rules with positive marginal tax rates. When the EOp-version of the Gini welfare function is adopted, the optimal tax rule turns out to be close to the actual 1993 Italian tax system, if not for the important difference of prescribing a universal lump-sum positive transfer of 3,500,000 ITL (=1807 Euros), which has no comparable counterpart in the actual system. On the other hand, when using the conventional equality of outcome (EO) criterion, the pure lump-sum tax always turns out to be optimal, at least with respect to the classes of two- and three-parameter rules. We also compute optimal rules under the additional constraint that universal lump-sum taxes are not feasible. Overall, the results do not conform to the perhaps common expectation that the EO criterion is more supportive of "interventionist" (redistributive) policies than an extended EOp approach.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 4598.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2009
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of Population Economics, 2012, 25 (2), 741-761
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4598

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Keywords: labour supply; equality of outcome; equality of opportunity; optimal income taxation;

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References

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  1. Donaldson, David & Weymark, John A., 1980. "A single-parameter generalization of the Gini indices of inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 67-86, February.
  2. Aaberge, Rolf & Colombino, Ugo, 2006. "Designing Optimal Taxes with a Microeconometric Model of Household Labour Supply," IZA Discussion Papers 2468, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Ebert, Udo, 1987. "Size and distribution of incomes as determinants of social welfare," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 23-33, February.
  4. John E. Roemer & Rolf Aaberge & Ugo Colombino & Johan Fritzell & Stephen P. Jenkins & Ive Marx & Marianne Page & Evert Pommer & Javier Ruiz-Castillo & Maria Jesus San Segundo & Torben Tranaes & Gert G, 2000. "To What Extent do Fiscal Regimes Equalize Opportunities for Income Acquisition Among Citizens?," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 222, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  5. François Bourguignon & Francisco H.G. Ferreira & Marta Menéndez, 2003. "Inequality of Outcomes and Inequality of Opportunities in Brazil," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 2003-630, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  6. Christian Dustmann, 2004. "Parental background, secondary school track choice, and wages," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 56(2), pages 209-230, April.
  7. Rolf Aaberge, 2000. "Characterizations of Lorenz curves and income distributions," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 17(4), pages 639-653.
  8. Ugo Colombino & Steinar Strøm & Rolf Aaberge, 2000. "Labor supply responses and welfare effects from replacing current tax rules by a flat tax: Empirical evidence from Italy, Norway and Sweden," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 13(4), pages 595-621.
  9. Elchanan Ben Porath & Itzhak Gilboa, 1991. "Linear Measures, the Gini Index and the Income-Equality Tradeoff," Discussion Papers 944, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
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  18. Ermisch, John & Francesconi, Marco, 2001. "Family Matters: Impacts of Family Background on Educational Attainments," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 68(270), pages 137-56, May.
  19. Bruce Sacerdote, 2000. "The Nature and Nurture of Economic Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 7949, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  22. Checchi, Daniele & Peragine, Vito, 2005. "Regional Disparities and Inequality of Opportunity: The Case of Italy," IZA Discussion Papers 1874, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  23. Aaberge, Rolf & Colombino, Ugo & Strom, Steinar, 1999. "Labour Supply in Italy: An Empirical Analysis of Joint Household Decisions, with Taxes and Quantity Constraints," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(4), pages 403-22, July-Aug..
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Blog mentions

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  1. Mini-curso
    by Erik Figueiredo in Moral Hazard on 2011-03-03 21:25:00
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Cited by:
  1. Aaberge, Rolf & Mogstad, Magne & Peragine, Vito, 2011. "Measuring long-term inequality of opportunity," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(3-4), pages 193-204, April.
  2. Judith Niehues & Andreas Peichl, 2011. "Lower and Upper Bounds of Unfair Inequality: Theory and Evidence for Germany and the US," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 395, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  3. Ugo Colombino, 2010. "Equilibrium policy simulations with random utility models of labour supply," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 156, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
  4. Colombino Ugo, 2012. "Equilibrium simulation with microeconometric models. A new procedure with an application to income support policies," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis. Working Papers 201209, University of Turin.
  5. Judith Niehues & Andreas Peichl, 2012. "Bounds of Unfair Inequality of Opportunity: Theory and Evidence for Germany and the US," CESifo Working Paper Series 3815, CESifo Group Munich.
  6. Andrén, Daniela & Andrén, Thomas, 2014. "Women's and men's responses to in-work benefits: The influence of younger children," Working Papers 2014:1, Örebro University, School of Business.
  7. Ooghe, Erwin & Peichl, Andreas, 2014. "Fair and efficent taxation under partial control," ZEW Discussion Papers 14-002, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  8. Erik Figueiredo, 2011. "A Note on the Measurement of Unfair Inequality in Brazil," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 31(4), pages 2944-2951.

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