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Optimal Taxation According to Equality of Opportunity: A Microeconometric Simulation Analysis

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  • Rolf Aaberge
  • Ugo Colombino

    ()

  • John E. Roemer

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 and within types when types are defined by (observable) circumstances that are beyond people's control. An empirical microeconometric model of labour supply in Italy is used to simulate and identify income tax-transfer rules that are optimal according to the extended EOp criterion. The tax-transfer rules are only allowed to depend on income, i.e. we look for second-best optimality. The rules are defined by a universal 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 high degree of withintype 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 lumpsum positive transfer of 3,500,000 ITL, 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 suggest, somehow surprisingly, that the extended EOp approach would demand more redistribution than the EO approach.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CHILD - Centre for Household, Income, Labour and Demographic economics - ITALY in its series CHILD Working Papers with number wp05_08.

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Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2008
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Handle: RePEc:wpc:wplist:wp05_08

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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. Yaari, Menahem E, 1987. "The Dual Theory of Choice under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(1), pages 95-115, January.
  2. 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..
  3. Donaldson, David & Weymark, John A., 1983. "Ethically flexible gini indices for income distributions in the continuum," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 353-358, April.
  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. Checchi, Daniele & Fiorio, Carlo V. & Leonardi, Marco, 2013. "Intergenerational persistence of educational attainment in Italy," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 118(1), pages 229-232.
  6. Weymark, John A., 1981. "Generalized gini inequality indices," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 1(4), pages 409-430, August.
  7. Sen, Amartya, 1974. "Informational bases of alternative welfare approaches : Aggregation and income distribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 387-403, November.
  8. Hey, John D & Lambert, Peter J, 1980. "Relative Deprivation and the Gini Coefficient: Comment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 95(3), pages 567-73, November.
  9. Aaberge, R. & Colombino, U. & Strom, S. & Wennemo, T., 1998. "Evaluating alternative tax reforms in Italy with a model of joint labor supply of married couples," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 415-433, December.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Aaberge, Rolf, 2001. "Axiomatic Characterization of the Gini Coefficient and Lorenz Curve Orderings," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 101(1), pages 115-132, November.
  13. Rolf Aaberge, 2006. "Gini’s Nuclear Family," Discussion Papers 491, Research Department of Statistics Norway.
  14. Rolf Aaberge, 2000. "Characterizations of Lorenz curves and income distributions," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 17(4), pages 639-653.
  15. Mehran, Farhad, 1976. "Linear Measures of Income Inequality," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 44(4), pages 805-09, July.
  16. Roemer, J.E., 1992. "A Pragmatic Theory of Responsibility for the Egalitarian Planner," Papers 391, California Davis - Institute of Governmental Affairs.
  17. Yaari, Menahem E., 1988. "A controversial proposal concerning inequality measurement," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 381-397, April.
  18. 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).
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Cited by:
  1. Vito Peragine & Laura Serlenga, 2007. "Higher education and equality of opportunity in Italy," CHILD Working Papers wp01_08, CHILD - Centre for Household, Income, Labour and Demographic economics - ITALY.

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