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National income taxation and the geographic distribution of population

Author

Listed:
  • Jørn Rattsø

    () (Norwegian University of Science and Technology)

  • Hildegunn E. Stokke

    () (Norwegian University of Science and Technology)

Abstract

Abstract We study how different national taxation schemes interact with geographic variation in productivity and consumption amenities in determining regional populations. A neoclassical migration equilibrium model is used to analyze the current nominal income tax system in Norway. The analysis is based on estimated regional income differences accounting for both observable and unobservable individual characteristics and the value of experience. Given regional differences in incomes and housing prices, quality of life and productivity are calibrated to model equilibrium. Compared to an undistorted equilibrium with lump-sum taxation, nominal income taxation creates a disincentive to locate in productive high-income regions. The deadweight loss due to locational inefficiencies is 0.18% of gross domestic product (GDP). We study real income taxation and equal real taxes as alternative tax systems. Both alternatives generate a geographic distribution of the population closer to the undistorted equilibrium, and hence with lower deadweight loss. In an extension of the analysis, we take into account payroll taxes. The existing regionally differentiated payroll taxes to the disadvantage of cities generate a deadweight loss of 0.22% of GDP in an economy with lump-sum income taxation. The two distortionary taxes interact and strengthen each other and the combined distortionary effect of income and payroll taxation in the Norwegian system is 0.46% of GDP.

Suggested Citation

  • Jørn Rattsø & Hildegunn E. Stokke, 2017. "National income taxation and the geographic distribution of population," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 24(5), pages 879-902, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:itaxpf:v:24:y:2017:i:5:d:10.1007_s10797-016-9430-3
    DOI: 10.1007/s10797-016-9430-3
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Hildegunn Ekroll Stokke, 2015. "Regional payroll tax cuts and individual wages: Heterogeneous effects across education groups," Working Paper Series 16815, Department of Economics, Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Regional tax distortions; Payroll taxation; Cost of living; Amenities; Locational efficiency; Migration equilibrium;

    JEL classification:

    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • H77 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population

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