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Estate Taxation with Altruism Heterogeneity


  • Emmanuel Farhi
  • Iván Werning


We develop a theory of optimal estate taxation in a model where bequest inequality is driven by differences in parental altruism. We show that a wide range of results are possible, from positive taxes to subsidies. The results depend on redistributive objectives implicit in the cardinal specification of utility and social welfare functions. We propose a normalization that is helpful in classifying these different possibilities. We isolate cases where the optimal policy bans negative bequests and taxes positive bequests, features present in most advanced countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Emmanuel Farhi & Iván Werning, 2013. "Estate Taxation with Altruism Heterogeneity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(3), pages 489-495, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:103:y:2013:i:3:p:489-95 Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.103.3.489

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Emmanuel Farhi & Iván Werning, 2010. "Progressive Estate Taxation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(2), pages 635-673.
    2. Christopher Connell & Eric Rasmusen, 2012. "Concavifying the Quasiconcave," Working Papers 2012-10, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.
    3. Diamond, P. A., 1975. "A many-person Ramsey tax rule," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(4), pages 335-342, November.
    4. J. A. Mirrlees, 1971. "An Exploration in the Theory of Optimum Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(2), pages 175-208.
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    Cited by:

    1. Marc Fleurbaey & Marie-Louise Leroux & Pierre Pestieau & Grégory Ponthière & Stephane Zuberk, 2017. "Premature deaths, accidental bequests and fairness," PSE Working Papers halshs-01649527, HAL.
    2. Marc Fleurbaey & Marie-Louise Leroux & Pierre Pestieau & Grégory Ponthiere & Stéphane Zuber, 2017. "Premature Deaths, Accidental Bequests and Fairness," CESifo Working Paper Series 6802, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household


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