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Fiscal redistribution and income inequality in Latin America

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  • Goni, Edwin
  • Lopez, J. Humberto
  • Serven, Luis

Abstract

Income inequality in Latin America ranks among the highest in the world. It can be traced back to the unequal distribution of assets (especially land and education) in the region. But the extent to which asset inequality translates into income inequality depends on the redistributive capacity of the state. This paper documents the performance of Latin American fiscal systems from the perspective of income redistribution using newly-available information on the incidence of taxes and transfers across the region. The findings indicate that: (i) the differences in income inequality before taxes and transfers between Latin America and Western Europe are much more modest than those after taxes and transfers; (ii) the key reason is that, in contrast with industrial countries, in most Latin American countries the fiscal system is of little help in reducing income inequality; and (iii) in countries where fiscal redistribution is significant, it is achieved mostly through transfers rather than taxes. These facts stress the need for fiscal reforms across the region to further the goal of social equity. However, different countries need to place different relative emphasis on raising tax collection, restructuring the tax system, and improving the targeting of expenditures.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 4487.

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Date of creation: 01 Jan 2008
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:4487

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Keywords: Taxation&Subsidies; Emerging Markets; Debt Markets; Economic Theory&Research; Poverty Impact Evaluation;

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References

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Neil Kendrick, 2013. "Educação para todos –“free to those who can afford it”: human capital and inequality persistence in 21st c Brazil," Economic History Working Papers 50970, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
  2. Birdsall, Nancy & Lustig, Nora & Meyer, Christian J., 2014. "The Strugglers: The New Poor in Latin America?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 132-146.
  3. Facundo Alvaredo & Leonardo Gasparini, 2013. "Recent Trends in Inequality and Poverty in Developing Countries," CEDLAS, Working Papers 0151, CEDLAS, Universidad Nacional de La Plata.
  4. João Pedro Azevedo & Antonio David & Fabiano Rodrigues Bastos & Emilio Pineda, 2014. "Fiscal Adjustment and Income Inequality: Sub-national Evidence from Brazil," IMF Working Papers 14/85, International Monetary Fund.
  5. Sean Higgins, Nora Lustig, Whitney Ruble, and Timothy Smeeding, 2014. "Comparing the Incidence of Taxes and Social Spending in Brazil and the United States - Working Paper 360," Working Papers 360, Center for Global Development.
  6. Fairfield, Tasha, 2013. "Going Where the Money Is: Strategies for Taxing Economic Elites in Unequal Democracies," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 42-57.
  7. Caroline-Antonia Goerl & Mike Seiferling, 2014. "Income Inequality, Fiscal Decentralization and Transfer Dependency," IMF Working Papers 14/64, International Monetary Fund.
  8. World Bank, 2008. "Uruguay : Poverty and Social Impact Assessment of the Tax Reform," World Bank Other Operational Studies 7890, The World Bank.
  9. Erik Alencar de Figueiredo & Cleiton Roberto da Fonseca Silva, 2012. "Fairness and Income Redistribution- an Analysis of the Latin American Tax System," Série Textos para Discussão (Working Papers) 4, Programa de Pós-Graduação em Economia - PPGE, Universidade Federal da Paraíba.
  10. Sergei Soares & Fernando Gaiger Silveira & Claudio Hamilton dos Santos & Fábio Monteiro Vaz & André Luis Souza, 2009. "O Potencial Distributivo do Imposto de Rendapessoa Física (IRPF)," Discussion Papers 1433, Instituto de Pesquisa Econômica Aplicada - IPEA.
  11. Rafael Rofman & María Laura Olivieri, 2012. "Un repaso sobre las políticas de protección social y la distribución del ingreso en Argentina," Económica, Departamento de Economía, Facultad de Ciencias Económicas, Universidad Nacional de La Plata, vol. 0, pages 97-128, January-D.
  12. Leonardo Gasparini & Guillermo Cruces & Leopoldo Tornarolli & Mariana Marchionni, 2009. "A Turning Point? Recent Developments on Inequality in Latin America and the Caribbean," CEDLAS, Working Papers 0081, CEDLAS, Universidad Nacional de La Plata.
  13. Richard M. Bird & Eric M. Zolt, 2013. "Taxation and Inequality in the Americas: Changing the Fiscal Contract?," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper1315, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.

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