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Optimal Policy with Heterogeneous Preferences

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  • Louis Kaplow

Abstract

Optimal policy rules--including those regarding income taxation, commodity taxation, public goods, and externalities--are typically derived in models with homogeneous preferences. This article reconsiders many central results for the case in which preferences for commodities, public goods, and externalities are heterogeneous. When preference differences are observable, standard second-best results in basic settings are unaffected, except those for the optimal income tax. Optimal levels of income taxation may be higher, the same, or lower on types who derive more utility from various goods, depending on the nature of preference differences and the concavity of the social welfare function. When preference differences are unobservable, all policy rules may change. The determinants of even the direction of optimal rule adjustments are many and subtle.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14170.

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Date of creation: Jul 2008
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Publication status: published as Louis Kaplow, 2008. "Optimal Policy with Heterogeneous Preferences," Advances in Economic Analysis & Policy, Berkeley Electronic Press, vol. 8(1).
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14170

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  1. Louis Kaplow, 2003. "Public Goods and the Distribution of Income," NBER Working Papers 9842, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  17. Louis Kaplow, 2004. "On the Undesirability of Commodity Taxation Even When Income Taxation is Not Optimal," NBER Working Papers 10407, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Peter Diamond & Johannes Spinnewijn, 2009. "Capital Income Taxes With Heterogeneous Discount Rates," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wp2009-14, Center for Retirement Research, revised Jun 2009.
  2. Stéphane Gauthier & Guy Laroque, 2009. "Separability and public finance," Post-Print hal-00731132, HAL.
  3. Louis Kaplow, 2011. "An Optimal Tax System," NBER Working Papers 17214, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Claus Thustrup Kreiner & Nicolaj Verdelin, 2012. "Optimal Provision of Public Goods: A Synthesis," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 114(2), pages 384-408, 06.
  5. 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.
  6. Spencer Bastani & Sören Blomquist & Luca Micheletto, 2010. "Public Provision of Private Goods, Tagging and Optimal Income Taxation withHeterogeneity in Needs," CESifo Working Paper Series 3275, CESifo Group Munich.
  7. Jacquet, Laurence & Van de Gaer, Dirk, 2011. "A comparison of optimal tax policies when compensation or responsibility matter," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(11), pages 1248-1262.
  8. N. Gregory Mankiw & Matthew C. Weinzierl & Danny Yagan, 2009. "Optimal Taxation in Theory and Practice," Harvard Business School Working Papers 09-140, Harvard Business School.
  9. Laurence Jacquet & Dirk Van de gaer, 2013. "Politiques fiscales optimales pour les bas revenus et principe de compensation," THEMA Working Papers 2013-04, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.

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