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Income distribution effects of the Swedish 1991 tax reform: An analysis of a microsimulation using generalized Kakwani decomposition

  • Palme, Marten

In 1991 a major tax reform was implemented in Sweden. This study compares the income equalization (income redistribution), vertical and horizontal equity properties of the pre- and post-reform tax and transfer systems. The method used is a decomposition, first proposed by Kakwani (1984), of the difference between the generalized Gini coefficients of the pre- and post-tax/transfer income districutions. The post-reform income distribution was obtained through a microsimulation carried out by the Ministry of Finance. Several findings emerge from the study. (i) The distribution of original incomes is unambiguously more equal under the post-reform regime. (ii) The increased amounts of child and housing allowances have a considerable equalizing effect. (iii) The pre-reform tax system has a larger vertical redistributive (equalizing) component. The decreased progressivity is the most important explanation in the lower end of the distribution, while the decreased tax rate explains more of the difference in the upper end. (iv) The reform increased horizontal equity. (v) It is a value judgement which of the distributions of disposable income are the most equal. The first four of these main findings apply when the calculations were redone within each separate household group. The overall methodological conclusion is that much more information was gained when different generalizations of the decomposition were considered.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Policy Modeling.

Volume (Year): 18 (1996)
Issue (Month): 4 (August)
Pages: 419-443

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jpolmo:v:18:y:1996:i:4:p:419-443
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505735

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  1. Feldstein, Martin, 1976. "On the theory of tax reform," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1-2), pages 77-104.
  2. O'Higgins, Michael & Ruggles, Patricia, 1981. "The Distribution of Public Expenditures and Taxes among Households in the United Kingdom," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 27(3), pages 298-326, September.
  3. Kakwani, Nanak, 1980. "On a Class of Poverty Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(2), pages 437-46, March.
  4. Fisher, Franklin M, 1987. "Household Equivalence Scales and Interpersonal Comparisons," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(3), pages 519-24, July.
  5. King, Mervyn A, 1983. "An Index of Inequality: With Applications to Horizontal Equity and Social Mobility," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(1), pages 99-115, January.
  6. Robert Plotnick, 1985. "A Comparison of Measures of Horizontal Inequity," NBER Chapters, in: Horizontal Equity, Uncertainty, and Economic Well-Being, pages 239-268 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Mervyn A. King, 1980. "An Index of Inequality: With Applications to Horizontal Equity and Social Mobility," NBER Working Papers 0468, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 1983. "On an Extension of the Gini Inequality Index," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 24(3), pages 617-28, October.
  9. Louis Kaplow, 1985. "Horizontal Equity: Measures in Search of a Principle," NBER Working Papers 1679, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Donaldson, David & Weymark, John A., 1980. "A single-parameter generalization of the Gini indices of inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 67-86, February.
  11. Kaplow, Louis, 1989. "Horizontal Equity: Measures in Search of a Principle," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 42(2), pages 139-54, June.
  12. Atkinson, Anthony B., 1970. "On the measurement of inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 244-263, September.
  13. Pfahler, Wilhelm, 1987. "Redistributive Effects of Tax Progressivity: Evaluating a General Class of Aggregate Measures," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 42(1), pages 1-31.
  14. Plotnick, Robert, 1982. "The concept and measurement of horizontal inequity," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 373-391, April.
  15. Jane G. Gravelle, 1992. "Equity Effects of the Tax Reform Act of 1986," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 6(1), pages 27-44, Winter.
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