IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Optimal Redistribution with Unobservable Preferences for an Observable Merit Good


  • Maria Racionero


This paper considers a government thatseeks both to redistribute income and to encourage or discouragethe consumption of a certain good. This good is assumed to beeither a merit or demerit good. Individuals differ in their exogenousincome and in their preferences for the merit good. The onlyvariable the government can perfectly observe is each individual'sconsumption of the merit good. In order to account for meritgood considerations, we consider a modification of the utilitariansocial welfare function in which the government imposes uniformpreferences, despite the heterogeneous individual preferences,at a level which will depend on the merit or demerit nature ofthe observable good. We derive the optimal nonlinear redistributivepolicy and compare our results to the ones that would be obtainedunder a utilitarian social welfare function that respects theown preferences of individuals. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Suggested Citation

  • Maria Racionero, 2000. "Optimal Redistribution with Unobservable Preferences for an Observable Merit Good," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 7(4), pages 479-501, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:itaxpf:v:7:y:2000:i:4:p:479-501 DOI: 10.1023/A:1008733405651

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1987. "Pareto efficient and optimal taxation and the new new welfare economics," Handbook of Public Economics,in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 15, pages 991-1042 Elsevier.
    2. FLEURBAEY, Marc & MANIQUET, François, 1998. "Optimal income taxation: and ordinal approach," CORE Discussion Papers 1998065, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
    3. Helmuth Cremer & Maurice Marchand & Pierre Pestieau, 1996. "Interregional redistribution through tax surcharge," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 3(2), pages 157-173, May.
    4. Nichols, Albert L & Zeckhauser, Richard J, 1982. "Targeting Transfers through Restrictions on Recipients," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(2), pages 372-377, May.
    5. Besley, Timothy, 1988. "A simple model for merit good arguments," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 371-383, April.
    6. L. Wade, 1988. "Review," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 58(1), pages 99-100, July.
    7. Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1982. "Self-selection and Pareto efficient taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 213-240, March.
    8. Mirrlees, J. A., 1976. "Optimal tax theory : A synthesis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(4), pages 327-358, November.
    9. Atkinson, A. B. & Stiglitz, J. E., 1976. "The design of tax structure: Direct versus indirect taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1-2), pages 55-75.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Ravi Kanbur & Jukka Pirttilä & Matti Tuomala, 2006. "Non-Welfarist Optimal Taxation And Behavioural Public Economics," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 20(5), pages 849-868, December.
    2. Sao-Wen Cheng & Andreas Wagener, 2000. "Altruism and Donations," Volkswirtschaftliche Diskussionsbeiträge 92-00, Universität Siegen, Fakultät Wirtschaftswissenschaften, Wirtschaftsinformatik und Wirtschaftsrecht.

    More about this item


    merit goods; non-linear tax schedule;

    JEL classification:

    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:kap:itaxpf:v:7:y:2000:i:4:p:479-501. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sonal Shukla) or (Rebekah McClure). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.