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The contribution of government transfer programs to inequality. A net-benefit approach

The contribution of government transfer programs to inequality is often assessed by analyzing to what extent the benefits paid go to lower income families. Several analysts have found that some key government transfers actually go mostly to middle and high income families and thus contribute to greater inequality. We argue in this paper that the impact of these programs on inequality should be evaluated considering the benefits received net of the taxes paid by households to finance the programs, since higher income households receive higher benefits but they also pay higher taxes. We illustrate this approach by estimating the impact of three government programs on inequality in Uruguay and show that the conclusions are different depending on whether we use gross or net benefits in the estimation.

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Article provided by Universidad del CEMA in its journal Journal of Applied Economics.

Volume (Year): XII (2009)
Issue (Month): (May)
Pages: 55-67

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Handle: RePEc:cem:jaecon:v:12:y:2009:n:1:p:55-67
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  1. Andrew Mason & Ronald Lee & An-Chi Tung & Mun-Sim Lai & Tim Miller, 2006. "Population Aging and Intergenerational Transfers: Introducing Age into National Accounts," NBER Working Papers 12770, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Guillermo E. Perry & Omar S. Arias & J. Humberto López & William F. Maloney & Luis Servén, 2006. "Poverty Reduction and Growth : Virtuous and Vicious Circles," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 6997, June.
  3. Atkinson, A.B., 2000. "Increased Income Inequality in OECD Countries and the Redistributive Impact of the Government Budget," Research Paper 202, World Institute for Development Economics Research.
  4. Shorrocks, A F, 1982. "Inequality Decomposition by Factor Components," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(1), pages 193-211, January.
  5. Beblo, Miriam & Knaus, Thomas, 2001. "Measuring Income Inequality in Euroland," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 47(3), pages 301-20, September.
  6. Ann Harding & Richard Percival & Deborah Schofield & Agnes Walker, 2002. "The Lifetime Distributional Impact of Government Health Outlays," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 35(4), pages 363-379.
  7. Kotlikoff, L.J. & Raffelhuschen, B., 1999. "Generational Accounting around the Globe," Norway; Department of Economics, University of Bergen 195, Department of Economics, University of Bergen.
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