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Tax-Benefit Revealed Social Preferences in Europe and the US

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  • Olivier Bargain
  • Mathias Dolls
  • Dirk Neumann
  • Andreas Peichl
  • Sebastian Siegloch

Abstract

We follow the inverted optimal tax approach to characterize and compare "tax-benefit revealed" social preferences in 17 EU countries and the US. Following Bargain et al. (2013), we invert the optimal income taxation model on the distributions of net and gross incomes and use labor supply elasticities consistently estimated on the same data. The present paper focuses on new outputs of particular interest for the current policy debate on in-work versus traditional social transfers. Results are as follows: We find that revealed marginal social welfare functions verify minimal consistency checks and, notably, respect Paretianity over-all. An exception is due to the treatment of the working poor in countries with standard, demogrant transfers. We illustrate for some countries how the recent policy trend in Continental and Nordic Europe tends to correct this "anomaly" through redistributive reforms in favor of the working poor. Finally, we compare revealed and stated social preferences using direct survey information and suggest explanations for the apparent discrepancies.

Suggested Citation

  • Olivier Bargain & Mathias Dolls & Dirk Neumann & Andreas Peichl & Sebastian Siegloch, 2014. "Tax-Benefit Revealed Social Preferences in Europe and the US," Annals of Economics and Statistics, GENES, issue 113-114, pages 257-289.
  • Handle: RePEc:adr:anecst:y:2014:i:113-114:p:257-289
    DOI: 10.15609/annaeconstat2009.113-114.257
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    Cited by:

    1. Lockwood, Benjamin B. & Weinzierl, Matthew, 2016. "Positive and normative judgments implicit in U.S. tax policy, and the costs of unequal growth and recessions," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 30-47.
    2. Jan Marvin Garbuszus & Notburga Ott & Sebastian Pehle & Martin Werding, 2021. "Income-dependent equivalence scales: A fresh look at German micro-data," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 19(4), pages 855-873, December.
    3. Michaël Sicsic, 2020. "Does Labor Income React more to Income Tax or Means-Tested Benefit Reforms?," TEPP Working Paper 2020-03, TEPP.
    4. Johannes Hermle & Andreas Peichl, 2018. "Jointly Optimal Taxes for Different Types of Income," CESifo Working Paper Series 7248, CESifo.
    5. Spencer Bastani & Jacob Lundberg, 2017. "Political preferences for redistribution in Sweden," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 15(4), pages 345-367, December.
    6. Hartwick, John M. & Long, Ngo Van, 2018. "Sustainability with endogenous discounting when utility depends on consumption and amenities," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 31-36.
    7. Jacobs, Bas & Jongen, Egbert L.W. & Zoutman, Floris T., 2017. "Revealed social preferences of Dutch political parties," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 156(C), pages 81-100.
    8. Olivier Bargain, 2018. "Introduction – Socio-Fiscal Incentives to Work: Taking Stock and New Research," Economie et Statistique / Economics and Statistics, Institut National de la Statistique et des Études Économiques (INSEE), issue 503-504, pages 5-12.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • C63 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Computational Techniques

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