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Estate tax and lifetime income inequality


  • Jiang, Lily


This paper constructs a heterogeneous, intertemporal general equilibrium framework which integrates both intended and unintended bequest motives to examine the long-run effects of an estate tax on the inequality of lifetime income. The results are ambiguous in general and sensitive to the type of transfer motive involved. We find that in the purely intended bequest case, an estate tax increases the steady-state inequality of net lifetime income in the case where people's elasticity of intertemporal substitution is greater than one. However, in the purely unintended bequest case, the effect of an estate tax on inequality is dependent on the probability of survival.

Suggested Citation

  • Jiang, Lily, 2010. "Estate tax and lifetime income inequality," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 613-619, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecmode:v:27:y:2010:i:3:p:613-619

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Cremer, Helmuth & Pestieau, Pierre, 2001. "Non-linear taxation of bequests, equal sharing rules and the tradeoff between intra- and inter-family inequalities," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(1), pages 35-53, January.
    2. Bernheim, B Douglas, 1991. "How Strong Are Bequest Motives? Evidence Based on Estimates of the Demand for Life Insurance and Annuities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(5), pages 899-927, October.
    3. Laitner, John & Ohlsson, Henry, 2001. "Bequest motives: a comparison of Sweden and the United States," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(1), pages 205-236, January.
    4. Tomes, Nigel, 1981. "The Family, Inheritance, and the Intergenerational Transmission of Inequality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 928-958, October.
    5. Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1978. "Notes on Estate Taxes, Redistribution, and the Concept of Balanced Growth Path Incidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(2), pages 137-150, April.
    6. Menchik, Paul L & David, Martin, 1983. "Income Distribution, Lifetime Savings, and Bequests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(4), pages 672-690, September.
    7. Caballe, Jordi, 1995. "Endogenous Growth, Human Capital, and Bequests in a Life-Cycle Model," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 47(1), pages 156-181, January.
    8. Altonji, Joseph G & Hayashi, Fumio & Kotlikoff, Laurence J, 1997. "Parental Altruism and Inter Vivos Transfers: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(6), pages 1121-1166, December.
    9. Becker, Gary S & Tomes, Nigel, 1979. "An Equilibrium Theory of the Distribution of Income and Intergenerational Mobility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1153-1189, December.
    10. Hurd, Michael D, 1987. "Savings of the Elderly and Desired Bequests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(3), pages 298-312, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gahramanov, Emin, 2013. "Survival misperception, time inconsistency, and implications for life-cycle saving and welfare," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 539-550.


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