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Environmental Taxation, Inequality and Engel’s Law: The Double Dividend of Redistribution

Author

Listed:
  • David Klenert

    (Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC)
    Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
    Technical University of Berlin)

  • Gregor Schwerhoff

    (Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC))

  • Ottmar Edenhofer

    (Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC)
    Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
    Technical University of Berlin)

  • Linus Mattauch

    (Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC)
    School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford)

Abstract

Empirical evidence shows that low-income households spend a high share of their income on pollution-intensive goods. This fuels the concern that an environmental tax reform could be regressive. We employ a framework which accounts for the distributional effect of environmental taxes and the recycling of the revenues on both households and firms to quantify changes in the optimal tax structure and the equity impacts of an environmental tax reform. We characterize when an optimal environmental tax reform does not increase inequality, even if the tax system before the reform is optimal from a non-environmental point of view. If the tax system before the reform is calibrated to stylized data—and is thus non-optimal—we find that there is a large scope for inequality reduction, even if the government is restricted in its recycling options.

Suggested Citation

  • David Klenert & Gregor Schwerhoff & Ottmar Edenhofer & Linus Mattauch, 2018. "Environmental Taxation, Inequality and Engel’s Law: The Double Dividend of Redistribution," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 71(3), pages 605-624, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:enreec:v:71:y:2018:i:3:d:10.1007_s10640-016-0070-y
    DOI: 10.1007/s10640-016-0070-y
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    As found on the RePEc Biblio, the curated bibliography for Economics:
    1. > Environmental and Natural Resource Economics > Climate economics > Abatement costs > Distribution of abatement costs

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    Cited by:

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    2. Fremstad, Anders & Paul, Mark, 2019. "The Impact of a Carbon Tax on Inequality," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 163(C), pages 88-97.
    3. Hänsel, Martin C. & Franks, Max & Kalkuhl, Matthias & Edenhofer, Ottmar, 2022. "Optimal carbon taxation and horizontal equity: A welfare-theoretic approach with application to German household data," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 116(C).
    4. King, Maia & Tarbush, Bassel & Teytelboym, Alexander, 2019. "Targeted carbon tax reforms," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 119(C), pages 526-547.
    5. Kornek, Ulrike & Klenert, David & Edenhofer, Ottmar & Fleurbaey, Marc, 2021. "The social cost of carbon and inequality: When local redistribution shapes global carbon prices," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 107(C).
    6. Shuyang Chen, 2022. "The inequality impacts of the carbon tax in China," Palgrave Communications, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 9(1), pages 1-10, December.
    7. World Bank Group, 2018. "Strategic Use of Climate Finance to Maximize Climate Action," World Bank Publications - Reports 30475, The World Bank Group.
    8. Klenert, David & Mattauch, Linus, 2016. "How to make a carbon tax reform progressive: The role of subsistence consumption," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 138(C), pages 100-103.
    9. Ulrich Eydam, 2021. "The Distributional Implications of Climate Policies Under Uncertainty," CEPA Discussion Papers 33, Center for Economic Policy Analysis.
    10. David Klenert & Franziska Funke & Linus Mattauch & Brian O’Callaghan, 2020. "Five Lessons from COVID-19 for Advancing Climate Change Mitigation," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 76(4), pages 751-778, August.
    11. Mattauch, Linus & Zhao, Jiaxin, 2021. "When standards have better distributional consequences than carbon taxes," INET Oxford Working Papers 2020-25, Institute for New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford.
    12. Sommer, Stephan & Mattauch, Linus & Pahle, Michael, 2022. "Supporting carbon taxes: The role of fairness," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 195(C).
    13. Weiner, Csaba & Muth, Dániel & Lakócai, Csaba, 2023. "A szén-dioxid-kibocsátást terhelő adó társadalmi elfogadottsága és a fizetési hajlandóság alakulása Magyarországon [Public acceptance of and willingness to pay for a tax on carbon-dioxide emissions," Közgazdasági Szemle (Economic Review - monthly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Közgazdasági Szemle Alapítvány (Economic Review Foundation), vol. 0(10), pages 1077-1107.
    14. Chen, Shuyang & Wang, Can, 2023. "Inequality impacts of ETS penalties: A case study on the recent Chinese nationwide ETS market," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 173(C).
    15. Zhao, Jiaxin & Mattauch, Linus, 2022. "When standards have better distributional consequences than carbon taxes," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 116(C).
    16. Drupp, Moritz A. & Meya, Jasper N. & Baumgärtner, Stefan & Quaas, Martin F., 2017. "Economic inequality and the value of nature," Economics Working Papers 2017-08, Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, Department of Economics.
    17. Tovar Reaños, Miguel A. & Lynch, Muireann Á., 2022. "Measuring carbon tax incidence using a fully flexible demand system. Vertical and horizontal effects using Irish data," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 160(C).
    18. Li, Zhengda & Zheng, Chengxin & Liu, Aimin & Yang, Yang & Yuan, Xiaoling, 2022. "Environmental taxes, green subsidies, and cleaner production willingness: Evidence from China's publicly traded companies," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 183(C).
    19. Sugey de Jesús López Pérez & Xavier Vence, 2021. "When Harmful Tax Expenditure Prevails over Environmental Tax: An Assessment on the 2014 Mexican Fiscal Reform," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 13(20), pages 1-17, October.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Environmental tax reform; Double dividend; Revenue recycling; Inequality; Distribution; Non-homothetic preferences;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D58 - Microeconomics - - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium - - - Computable and Other Applied General Equilibrium Models
    • D62 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Externalities
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy; Modern Monetary Theory
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies

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