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Consumption Taxes and Redistribution


  • Isabel Correia


This study considers replacing the current US tax system with only a flat tax consumption tax, showing, in contrast to the literature, that such a reform leads to a decline in inequality and increase in welfare for the welfare-poor. The results are obtained from a simple model that identifies the main channels through which the reform affects the economy. It is shown also that these novel results depend on the distribution of wealth and earnings, and that they hold for the relevant empirical distributions. (JEL D31, H23, H25)

Suggested Citation

  • Isabel Correia, 2010. "Consumption Taxes and Redistribution," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(4), pages 1673-1694, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:100:y:2010:i:4:p:1673-94 Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.100.4.1673

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. William M. Gentry & R. Glenn Hubbard, 1997. "Distributional Implications of Introducing a Broad-Based Consumption Tax," NBER Chapters,in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 11, pages 1-48 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Raquel Fernandez & Richard Rogerson, 2003. "Equity and Resources: An Analysis of Education Finance Systems," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(4), pages 858-897, August.
    3. David E. Altig & Alan J. Auerbach & Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Kent Smetters & Jan Walliser, 1997. "Simulating U.S. tax reform," Working Paper 9712, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
    4. Ventura, Gustavo, 1999. "Flat tax reform: A quantitative exploration," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 23(9-10), pages 1425-1458, September.
    5. Isabel Correia & Juan Pablo Nicolini & Pedro Teles, 2008. "Optimal Fiscal and Monetary Policy: Equivalence Results," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(1), pages 141-170, February.
    6. Greenwood, Jeremy & Hercowitz, Zvi & Huffman, Gregory W, 1988. "Investment, Capacity Utilization, and the Real Business Cycle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(3), pages 402-417, June.
    7. Krusell, Per & Quadrini, Vincenzo & Rios-Rull, Jose-Victor, 1996. "Are consumption taxes really better than income taxes?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 475-503, June.
    8. Joel Slemrod & Jon Bakija, 2004. "Taxing Ourselves, 3rd Edition: A Citizen's Guide to the Debate over Taxes," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 3, volume 1, number 026269302x, July.
    9. Jorgenson, Dale W & Wilcoxen, Peter J, 1997. "The Long-Run Dynamics of Fundamental Tax Reform," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 126-132, May.
    10. Santiago Budría & Javier Díaz-Giménez, 2007. "Economic inequality in Spain: the european community household panel dataset," Spanish Economic Review, Springer;Spanish Economic Association, vol. 9(1), pages 1-38, March.
    11. Santiago Budria Rodriguez & Javier Diaz-Gimenez & Vincenzo Quadrini & Jose-Victor Rios-Rull, 2002. "Updated facts on the U.S. distributions of earnings, income, and wealth," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Sum, pages 2-35.
    12. Daniel R. Feenberg & Andrew W. Mitrusi & James M. Poterba, 1997. "Distributional Effects of Adopting a National Retail Sales Tax," NBER Chapters,in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 11, pages 49-90 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. ColemanII, Wilbur John, 2000. "Welfare and optimum dynamic taxation of consumption and income," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(1), pages 1-39, April.
    14. Isabel H. Correia, 1999. "Fiscal rules of income transformation," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 13(1), pages 199-205.
    15. Correia, Isabel H., 1999. "On the efficiency and equity trade-off," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 581-603, December.
    16. Elhanan Helpman & Efraim Sadka, 1982. "Consumption Versus Wage Taxation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 97(2), pages 363-372.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Are consumption taxes more equitable?
      by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2010-12-29 22:25:00


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    Cited by:

    1. Isabel Horta Correia, 2007. "The Effects on Equity of an Increase in the Value-Added Tax," Economic Bulletin and Financial Stability Report Articles, Banco de Portugal, Economics and Research Department.
    2. George Economides & Anastasios Rizos, 2017. "Optimal taxation and the tradeoff between efficiency and redistribution," DEOS Working Papers 1701, Athens University of Economics and Business.
    3. Sarolta Laczo & Raffaele Rossi, 2014. "Time-consistent consumption taxation," Working Papers 67495267, Lancaster University Management School, Economics Department.
    4. Isabel Horta Correia, 2010. "Taxation and Globalization," Working Papers w201020, Banco de Portugal, Economics and Research Department.
    5. Anagnostopoulos, Alexis & Li, Qian, 2013. "Consumption taxes and precautionary savings," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 119(3), pages 238-242.
    6. Jonathan Heathcote & Kjetil Storesletten & Giovanni L. Violante, 2017. "Optimal Tax Progressivity: An Analytical Framework," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 132(4), pages 1693-1754.
    7. Albert Marcet & Katharina Greulich, 2008. "Pareto-Improving Optimal Capital and Labor Taxes," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 733.08, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
    8. Anh D.M.Nguyen & Luisanna Onnis & Raffaele Rossi, 2016. "The Macroeconomic Effects of Income and Consumption Tax Changes," Centre for Growth and Business Cycle Research Discussion Paper Series 227, Economics, The Univeristy of Manchester.
    9. Anmol Bhandari & David Evans & Mikhail Golosov & Thomas J. Sargent, 2013. "Taxes, Debts, and Redistributions with Aggregate Shocks," NBER Working Papers 19470, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Masaya Yasuoka & Minoru Hayashida, 2015. "How should a government finance redistribution policies?," Discussion Paper Series 136, School of Economics, Kwansei Gakuin University, revised Oct 2015.
    11. George Economides & Apostolis Philippopoulos, 2012. "Are User Fees Really Regressive?," CESifo Working Paper Series 3875, CESifo Group Munich.
    12. Javier Andrés & José E. Boscá & Javier Ferri, 2016. "Instruments, rules, and household debt: the effects of fiscal policy," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 68(2), pages 419-443.
    13. Lopez-Daneri, Martin, 2016. "NIT picking: The macroeconomic effects of a Negative Income Tax," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 1-16.
    14. Lim, G.C. & McNelis, Paul D., 2016. "Income growth and inequality: The threshold effects of trade and financial openness," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 403-412.
    15. repec:eee:moneco:v:91:y:2017:i:c:p:39-51 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Antón, Arturo & Boyd, Roy & Elizondo, Alejandra & Ibarrarán, María Eugenia, 2016. "Universal social insurance for Mexico: Modeling of a financing scheme," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 52(PB), pages 838-850.
    17. Roberta, Cardani & Lorenzo, Menna & Patrizio, Tirelli, 2016. "The Optimal Policy Mix to Achieve Public Debt Consolidation," Working Papers 356, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised 31 Dec 2016.
    18. G. C. Lim & Paul D. McNelis, 2014. "Income Inequality, Trade and Financial Openness," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2014n07, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
    19. Roberta, Cardani & Lorenzo, Menna & Patrizio, Tirelli, 2016. "Optimal Public Debt Consolidation with Distributional Conflicts," Working Papers 350, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised 05 Oct 2016.
    20. Luigi, Bernardi, 2011. "Economic crisis and taxation in Europe," MPRA Paper 31007, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    21. Fernando Alexandre & Luís Aguiar Conraria & Pedro Bação & Miguel Portela, 2011. "A Poupança em Portugal," GEMF Working Papers 2011-19, GEMF, Faculty of Economics, University of Coimbra.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies


    This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:
    1. Consumption Taxes and Redistribution (AER 2010) in ReplicationWiki
    2. Economic Logic blog


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