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Marginal Tax Rates and Income Inequality in a Life-Cycle Model

  • Charles T. Carlstrom
  • David Altig

In this paper we study the quantitative impact of marginal tax rates on the distribution of income. Our methodology builds on computable general-equilibrium framework. We find that distortions from marginal tax rate changes of the sort implied by the Tax Reform Act of 1986 have sizable effects on income inequality in a reasonably quantified life-cycle setting: In our model rate changes alone capture half the increase in the pretax Gini that actually occurred between 1984 and 1989.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.89.5.1197
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 89 (1999)
Issue (Month): 5 (December)
Pages: 1197-1215

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:89:y:1999:i:5:p:1197-1215
Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.89.5.1197
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  1. Gastwirth, Joseph L, 1972. "The Estimation of the Lorenz Curve and Gini Index," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 54(3), pages 306-16, August.
  2. Finn E. Kydland & Edward C. Prescott, 1994. "The computational experiment: an econometric tool," Staff Report 178, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  3. Daniel R. Feenberg & James M. Poterba, 1993. "Income Inequality and the Incomes of Very High-Income Taxpayers: Evidence from Tax Returns," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 7, pages 145-177 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Rupert, Peter & Rogerson, Richard & Wright, Randall, 2000. "Homework in labor economics: Household production and intertemporal substitution," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 557-579, December.
  5. Killingsworth, Mark R. & Heckman, James J., 1987. "Female labor supply: A survey," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & R. Layard (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 2, pages 103-204 Elsevier.
  6. Blackburn, McKinley L., 1989. "Interpreting the magnitude of changes in measures of income inequality," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 21-25, September.
  7. MaCurdy, Thomas E, 1981. "An Empirical Model of Labor Supply in a Life-Cycle Setting," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(6), pages 1059-85, December.
  8. King, Robert G & Plosser, Charles I & Rebelo, Sergio T, 2002. "Production, Growth and Business Cycles: Technical Appendix," Computational Economics, Society for Computational Economics, vol. 20(1-2), pages 87-116, October.
  9. Feldstein, Martin, 1995. "The Effect of Marginal Tax Rates on Taxable Income: A Panel Study of the 1986 Tax Reform Act," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(3), pages 551-72, June.
  10. Lerman, Robert I & Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 1985. "Income Inequality Effects by Income," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 67(1), pages 151-56, February.
  11. Rogerson, Richard & Rupert, Peter, 1991. "New estimates of intertemporal substitution : The effect of corner solutions for year-round workers," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 255-269, April.
  12. David Altig & Charles T. Carlstrom, 1993. "Using bracket creep to raise revenue: a bad idea whose time has passed," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, issue Q II, pages 2-11.
  13. Casey B. Mulligan, . "The Intertemporal Substitution of Work--What Does the Evidence Say?," University of Chicago - Population Research Center 95-11, Chicago - Population Research Center.
  14. David Altig & Charles T. Carlstrom, 1995. "Marginal tax rates and income inequality: a quantitative-theoretic analysis," Working Paper 9508, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  15. Levy, Frank & Murnane, Richard J, 1992. "U.S. Earnings Levels and Earnings Inequality: A Review of Recent Trends and Proposed Explanations," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(3), pages 1333-81, September.
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