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Tax Reform and Automatic Stabilization

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  • Thomas J. Kniesner
  • James P. Ziliak

Abstract

An income tax provides implicit insurance by dampening the variability of disposable income and consumption. Using an empirical framework derived from the consumption insurance literature and data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics we examine the effect of federal income tax reforms of the 1980's on automatic stabilization of consumption. Overall, ERTA and TRA86 reduced consumption stability by about 50 percent. Recently increased EITC generosity restored or enhanced consumption insurance. The welfare cost of moving to the post-TRA86 system is sizable for relatively risk-averse households facing large income risk but is much more modest for the typical household. (JEL H21)

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas J. Kniesner & James P. Ziliak, 2002. "Tax Reform and Automatic Stabilization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(3), pages 590-612, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:92:y:2002:i:3:p:590-612
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/00028280260136264
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation

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