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Equilibrium tax rates and income redistribution: A laboratory study

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  • Agranov, Marina
  • Palfrey, Thomas R.

Abstract

This paper reports results from a laboratory experiment that investigates the Meltzer–Richard model of equilibrium tax rates, inequality, and income redistribution. The experiment varies the amount of wage inequality and the political process used to determine tax rates. We find that higher inequality leads to higher tax rates; the effect is significant and large in magnitude. The tax rates and labor supply functions are both quantitatively close to the theory. The result is robust to the political institution. The theoretical model of Meltzer–Richard is extended to incorporate social preferences in the form of altruism and inequity aversion, which are found to have negligible effects in the data.

Suggested Citation

  • Agranov, Marina & Palfrey, Thomas R., 2015. "Equilibrium tax rates and income redistribution: A laboratory study," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 45-58.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:130:y:2015:i:c:p:45-58
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2015.08.008
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Voting; Taxes; Meltzer–Richard; Experiment;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies

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