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The optimal income tax when poverty is a public 'bad'

  • Wane, Waly

The author considers poverty as an aggregate negative externality that affects people in different ways, depending on their aversion to poverty. If society is on average averse to poverty, then the optimal income tax schedule displays negative marginal tax rates, at least for less skilled individuals. Negative marginal tax rates play the role of a Pigouvian earnings subsidy, fostering the supply of poor individuals to provide labor. The result of no distortion at the endpoints, which is therefore violated, can be restored once the focus is shifted from individual to social distortions.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

Volume (Year): 82 (2001)
Issue (Month): 2 (November)
Pages: 271-299

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Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:82:y:2001:i:2:p:271-299
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  1. Besley, T. & Coate, S., 1991. "The Design Of Income Maintenance Programs," Papers 74, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - John M. Olin Program.
  2. Ravi Kanbur & Michael Keen & Matti Tuomala, 1990. "Optimal Non-Linear Income Taxation for the Alleviation of Income Poverty," Working Papers 799, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
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  9. Foster, James & Greer, Joel & Thorbecke, Erik, 1984. "A Class of Decomposable Poverty Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(3), pages 761-66, May.
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  13. Lollivier, Stefan & Rochet, Jean-Charles, 1983. "Bunching and second-order conditions: A note on optimal tax theory," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 392-400, December.
  14. Seade, Jesus, 1982. "On the Sign of the Optimum Marginal Income Tax," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(4), pages 637-43, October.
  15. Eissa, Nada & Liebman, Jeffrey B, 1996. "Labor Supply Response to the Earned Income Tax Credit," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(2), pages 605-37, May.
  16. Diamond, Peter A, 1998. "Optimal Income Taxation: An Example with a U-Shaped Pattern of Optimal Marginal Tax Rates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 83-95, March.
  17. Mirrlees, James A, 1971. "An Exploration in the Theory of Optimum Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(114), pages 175-208, April.
  18. Brito, Dagobert L & Oakland, William H, 1977. "Some Properties of the Optimal Income-Tax," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 18(2), pages 407-23, June.
  19. Guesnerie, Roger & Laffont, Jean-Jacques, 1984. "A complete solution to a class of principal-agent problems with an application to the control of a self-managed firm," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 329-369, December.
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