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Debt neutrality, Professor Vickrey and Henry George's 'single tax'

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  • Buiter, Willem H.

Abstract

In the overlapping generations model with uncertain lifetimes, efficient life insurance markets and no operative intergenerational gift and bequest motive, a positive birth rate has been shown to be sufficient and necessary for absence of debt neutrality: equilibrium prices and quantities are independent of the mix of government borrowing and lump-sum taxation, holding constant the path of exhaustive public spending. Implicit in this analysis has been the assumption that the lump-sum tax is a tax on the income from human capital. Postponing lump-sum taxes then makes it possible to shift (part of) the tax burden to future generations if the birth rate is positive. If instead the tax falls on the income from a non-human fixed factor (land) whose ownership claims are priced efficiently, then, if all land is owned by generations currently alive, changes in the intertemporal pattern of taxation do not permit current generations to shift the tax burden to future generations. Taxes on the income from all "fully owned non-human-factors have this property, even those factors supplied elastically, but the latter will of course be subject to the familiar incentive or allocative effects of changes in (non-lump-sume) taxation.
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  • Buiter, Willem H., 1989. "Debt neutrality, Professor Vickrey and Henry George's 'single tax'," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 43-47.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolet:v:29:y:1989:i:1:p:43-47
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    1. Blanchard, Olivier J, 1985. "Debt, Deficits, and Finite Horizons," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(2), pages 223-247, April.
    2. Buiter, Willem H, 1988. "Death, Birth, Productivity Growth and Debt Neutrality," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 98(391), pages 279-293, June.
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    1. Alberto Petrucci, 2015. "Pure Rent Taxation and Growth in a Two-Sector Open Economy," Working Papers CELEG 1501, Dipartimento di Economia e Finanza, LUISS Guido Carli.
    2. Buiter, Willem H., 2010. "Housing wealth isn't wealth," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 4, pages 1-29.
    3. Petrucci, Alberto, 2006. "The incidence of a tax on pure rent in a small open economy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(4-5), pages 921-933, May.
    4. Stefan Homburg, 2014. "Overaccumulation, Public Debt and the Importance of Land," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 15(4), pages 411-435, November.
    5. Wellisch, Dietmar & Richter, Wolfram F., 1995. "Internalizing intergenerational externalities by regionalization," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(6), pages 685-704, December.
    6. Jan Siegmeier & Linus Mattauch & Ottmar Edenhofer, 2015. "Climate Policy Enhances Efficiency: A Macroeconomic Portfolio Effect," CESifo Working Paper Series 5161, CESifo.
    7. Ottmar Edenhofer & Linus Mattauch & Jan Siegmeier, 2013. "Hypergeorgism: When is Rent Taxation as a Remedy for Insufficient Capital Accumulation Socially Optimal?," CESifo Working Paper Series 4144, CESifo.
    8. Petrucci, Alberto, 2020. "Pure rent taxation and allocation of capital in a two-sector open economy: A long-run analysis," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 421-427.
    9. Buiter, Willem H. & Sibert, Anne, 2018. "Corporate Profit Taxes, Capital Expenditure and Real Wages: The analytics behind a contentious debate," CEPR Discussion Papers 12932, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    10. Siegmeier, Jan & Mattauch, Linus & Edenhofer, Ottmar, 2018. "Capital beats coal: How collecting the climate rent increases aggregate investment," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 366-378.

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