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Reprint of: The insurance value of state tax-and-transfer programs

  • Hoynes, Hilary W.
  • Luttmer, Erzo F.P.

This paper estimates the total value that individuals derive from their state's tax-and-transfer program, and shows how this value varies by income. The paper decomposes this total value into two components: redistributive value, which is due to predictable changes in income (and family circumstances), and insurance value, which occurs when taxes and transfers compensate for unexpected income shocks. Our approach is a forward-looking one, where we examine income and transfers net of taxes over a 10-year period. We model state taxes (personal income taxes, the EITC, and sales taxes) and state means-tested transfers (AFDC/TANF and Medicaid/SCHIP). The calculations are made using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics and allow for analysis of the role of changes in tax-and-transfer programs, demographics, and income in the value of state net benefits over a period of more than 30years. We find that the redistributive value of state tax-and-transfer programs sharply declines with income, but that the insurance value is increasing in income. The resulting total value still declines with income, but not nearly as sharply as the redistributive value. Hence, the insurance value mitigates the incentives for mobility that would “undo” state redistributive spending.

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

Volume (Year): 96 (2012)
Issue (Month): 11 ()
Pages: 1110-1128

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Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:96:y:2012:i:11:p:1110-1128
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

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  1. Benabou, R. & Ok, E.A., 1998. "Social Mobility and the Demand for Redistribution: The POUM Hypothesis," Working Papers 98-23, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  2. Jeffrey R. Brown, 2002. "Redistribution and Insurance: Mandatory Annuitization with Mortality Heterogeneity," NBER Working Papers 9256, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Boadway, Robin & Tremblay, Jean-François, 2012. "Reassessment of the Tiebout model," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(11), pages 1063-1078.
  4. Richard Blundell & Luigi Pistaferri & Ian Preston, 2008. "Consumption Inequality and Partial Insurance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(5), pages 1887-1921, December.
  5. Christos Koulovatianos & Charles Grant & Alex Michaelides & Mario Padula, . "Evidence on the Insurance Effect of Redistributive Taxation," Discussion Papers 09/08, University of Nottingham, Centre for Finance, Credit and Macroeconomics (CFCM).
  6. Paul W. Rhode & Koleman S. Strumpf, 2003. "Assessing the Importance of Tiebout Sorting: Local Heterogeneity from 1850 to 1990," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1648-1677, December.
  7. John Kennan & James R. Walker, 2003. "The Effect of Expected Income on Individual Migration Decisions," NBER Working Papers 9585, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Feldstein, Martin & Wrobel, Marian Vaillant, 1998. "Can state taxes redistribute income?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(3), pages 369-396, June.
  9. Cochrane, John H, 1995. "Time-Consistent Health Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(3), pages 445-73, June.
  10. Raj Chetty & Adam Szeidl, 2006. "Consumption Commitments and Risk Preferences," NBER Working Papers 12467, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Gordon, Roger H. & Cullen, Julie Berry, 2012. "Income redistribution in a Federal system of governments," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(11), pages 1100-1109.
  12. Jon Bakija, 2006. "Documentation for a Comprehensive Historical U.S. Federal and State Income Tax Calculator Program," Department of Economics Working Papers 2006-02, Department of Economics, Williams College, revised Aug 2009.
  13. Hoynes, Hilary W. & Luttmer, Erzo F.P., 2011. "The insurance value of state tax-and-transfer programs," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(11), pages 1466-1484.
  14. Daniel Feenberg & Elisabeth Coutts, 1993. "An introduction to the TAXSIM model," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(1), pages 189-194.
  15. Bruce D. Meyer & Wallace K. C. Mok & James X. Sullivan, 2009. "The Under-Reporting of Transfers in Household Surveys: Its Nature and Consequences," NBER Working Papers 15181, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Varian, Hal R., 1980. "Redistributive taxation as social insurance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 49-68, August.
  17. Gruber, Jonathan, 2000. "Cash welfare as a consumption smoothing mechanism for divorced mothers," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 157-182, February.
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