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The Optimal Taxation of Height: A Case Study of Utilitarian Income Redistribution

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  • N. Gregory Mankiw
  • Matthew Weinzierl

Abstract

Should the income tax include a credit for short taxpayers and a surcharge for tall ones? The standard Utilitarian framework for tax analysis answers this question in the affirmative. Moreover, a plausible parameterization using data on height and wages implies a substantial height tax: a tall person earning $50,000 should pay $4,500 more in tax than a short person. One interpretation is that personal attributes correlated with wages should be considered more widely for determining taxes. Alternatively, if policies such as a height tax are rejected, then the standard Utilitarian framework must fail to capture intuitive notions of distributive justice.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14976.

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Date of creation: May 2009
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Publication status: published as N. Gregory Mankiw & Matthew Weinzierl, 2010. "The Optimal Taxation of Height: A Case Study of Utilitarian Income Redistribution," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 2(1), pages 155-76, February.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14976

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  1. Alan D. Viard, 2001. "Some Results on the Comparative Statics of Optimal Categorical Transfer Payments," Public Finance Review, , vol. 29(2), pages 148-180, March.
  2. Nicola Persico & Andrew Postlewaite & Dan Silverman, 2004. "The Effect of Adolescent Experience on Labor Market Outcomes: The Case of Height," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(5), pages 1019-1053, October.
  3. Narayana R. Kocherlakota, 2005. "Zero Expected Wealth Taxes: A Mirrlees Approach to Dynamic Optimal Taxation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(5), pages 1587-1621, 09.
  4. Ravi Kanbur & Michael Keen & Matti Tuomala, 1990. "Optimal Non-Linear Income Taxation for the Alleviation of Income Poverty," Working Papers 799, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  5. Anne Case & Christina Paxson, 2008. "Stature and Status: Height, Ability, and Labor Market Outcomes," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(3), pages 499-532, 06.
  6. Immonen, Ritva, et al, 1998. "Tagging and Taxing: The Optimal Use of Categorical and Income Information in Designing Tax/Transfer Schemes," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 65(258), pages 179-92, May.
  7. Emmanuel Saez, 2000. "Using Elasticities to Derive Optimal Income Tax Rates," NBER Working Papers 7628, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Viard, Alan D, 2001. " Optimal Categorical Transfer Payments: The Welfare Economics of Limited Lump-Sum Redistribution," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 3(4), pages 483-500.
  9. Alberto Alesina & Andrea Ichino & Loukas Karabarbounis, 2011. "Gender-Based Taxation and the Division of Family Chores," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 1-40, May.
  10. Mirrlees, James A, 1971. "An Exploration in the Theory of Optimum Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(114), pages 175-208, April.
  11. Tuomala, Matti, 1990. "Optimal Income Tax and Redistribution," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198286059, September.
  12. Albanesi, Stefania & Sleet, Christopher, 2003. "Dynamic Optimal Taxation with Private Information," CEPR Discussion Papers 4006, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Does being short make you more likely to be a criminal?
    by Adam Ozimek in Modeled Behavior on 2010-05-03 11:39:11
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