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Poverty alleviation and tax policy

  • Pirttila, Jukka
  • Tuomala, Matti

This paper examines public good provision and tax policy ­ optimal non-linear income taxation and linear commodity taxation ­ when the government departs from purely welfarist objective function and seeks to minimise poverty. This assumption reflects much policy discussion and may help understand some divergences of practical tax policy from lessons in optimal tax analysis. In contrast to Atkinson and Stiglitz (1976), it may be optimal to use differentiated commodity tax rates, including the taxation of savings, even if preferences are separable in goods and leisure. The optimal effective marginal tax rate at the bottom of the distribution may be negative, suggesting that wage subsidy schemes can be optimal. Finally, optimal provision rules are derived for a public good under poverty minimisation.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal European Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 48 (2004)
Issue (Month): 5 (October)
Pages: 1075-1090

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Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:48:y:2004:i:5:p:1075-1090
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  1. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 1992. "Workfare versus Welfare Incentive Arguments for Work Requirements in Poverty-Alleviation Programs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(1), pages 249-61, March.
  2. J. A. Mirrlees, 1976. "Optimal Tax Theory: A Synthesis," Working papers 176, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  3. Besley, Timothy J & Kanbur, S M Ravi, 1988. "Food Subsidies and Poverty Alleviation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 98(392), pages 701-19, September.
  4. Cass R. Sunstein & Richard H. Thaler, 2003. "Libertarian paternalism is not an oxymoron," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, vol. 48(Jun).
  5. Cremer, Helmuth & Pestieau, Pierre & Rochet, Jean-Charles, 1999. "Capital Income Taxation when Inherited wealth is not Observable," IDEI Working Papers 109, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse, revised 2001.
  6. Sören Blömquist & Vidar Christiansen, 1998. "Price Subsidies Versus Public Provision," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 5(3), pages 283-306, July.
  7. Boadway, Robin & Marchand, Maurice, 1995. "The Use of Public Expenditures for Redistributive Purposes," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 47(1), pages 45-59, January.
  8. Kanbur, Ravi & Keen, Michael & Tuomala, Matti, 1994. "Labor Supply and Targeting in Poverty Alleviation Programs," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 8(2), pages 191-211, May.
  9. Kanbur, Ravi & Keen, Michael & Toumala, Matti, 1991. "Optimal non-linear income taxation for the alleviation of income poverty," Policy Research Working Paper Series 616, The World Bank.
  10. Robin W. Boadway & Maurice Marchand, 1990. "The Use of Public Expenditure for Distributive Purpose," Working Papers 796, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  11. Atkinson, A. B. & Stiglitz, J. E., 1976. "The design of tax structure: Direct versus indirect taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1-2), pages 55-75.
  12. Christiansen, Vidar, 1984. "Which commodity taxes should supplement the income tax?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 195-220, July.
  13. Robin Boadway & Michael Keen, 1991. "Public Goods, Self-Selection and Optimal Income Taxation," Working Papers 828, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  14. Saez, Emmanuel, 2002. "The desirability of commodity taxation under non-linear income taxation and heterogeneous tastes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 217-230, February.
  15. Richard H. Thaler & Cass R. Sunstein, 2003. "Libertarian Paternalism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 175-179, May.
  16. Bruce Bradbury, 2004. "Targeting social assistance," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 25(3), pages 305-324, September.
  17. Timothy Besley & Stephen Coate, 1995. "The Design of Income Maintenance Programmes," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 62(2), pages 187-221.
  18. Ordover, J. A. & Phelps, E. S., 1979. "The concept of optimal taxation in the overlapping-generations model of capital and wealth," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 1-26, August.
  19. Vidar Christiansen, 1981. "Evaluation of Public Projects under Optimal Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 48(3), pages 447-457.
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