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

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  • Rolf Aaberge
  • Ugo Colombino

    ()
    (Statistics Norway)

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 Research Department of Statistics Norway in its series Discussion Papers with number 619.

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Date of creation: May 2010
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Handle: RePEc:ssb:dispap:619

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

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References

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  1. Rolf Aaberge, 2007. "Gini’s nuclear family," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 5(3), pages 305-322, December.
  2. 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 Tranæs & Gert G, . "To What Extent Do Fiscal Regimes Equalize Opportunities for Income Acquisition among Citizens?," EPRU Working Paper Series 00-10, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  3. DONALDSON, David & WEYMARK, John A., . "Ethically flexible Gini indices for income distributions in the continuum," CORE Discussion Papers RP -520, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
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  5. 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).
  6. François Bourguignon & Francisco H. G. Ferreira & Marta Menendez, 2003. "Inequality of outcomes and inequality of opportunities in Brazil," Textos para discussão 478, Department of Economics PUC-Rio (Brazil).
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  23. 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.
  24. 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), pages 193-204.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Erik Figueiredo, 2011. "A Note on the Measurement of Unfair Inequality in Brazil," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 31(4), pages 2944-2951.
  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. Colombino Ugo, 2012. "A microeconometric-computational approach to empirical optimal taxation: outline of a project," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis. Working Papers 201218, University of Turin.
  7. Colombino Ugo, 2010. "Equilibrium policy simulations with random utility models of labour supply," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis. Working Papers 201015, University of Turin.
  8. 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).
  9. Judith Niehues & Andreas Peichl, 2014. "Upper bounds of inequality of opportunity: theory and evidence for Germany and the US," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 43(1), pages 73-99, June.
  10. 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.
  11. Colombino, Ugo, 2014. "Five Crossroads on the Way to Basic Income: An Italian Tour," IZA Discussion Papers 8087, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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