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Envy, Inequity Aversion, and Optimal Income Taxation


  • Kangsik Choi


The paper analyzes the optimal income taxation policy when inequity aversion exists among taxpayers. The influence of inequity aversion on the optimal income tax scheme depends on whether taxpayers are concerned about inequality in wages or in rents (i.e., wages minus effort costs). If agents compare wages, then a more productive agent who is averse to inequity produces more output than the first-best level of output, while a less productive agent produces less than the second-best level of the output in a standard adverse-selection model. Therefore, the trade-off between efficiency and equity becomes more serious than the trade-off in a reference case without inequity aversion. Conversely, when agents´ disutility from inequity arises from inequality in rents, the trade-off between efficiency and equity may become either more serious or milder than in the reference case.

Suggested Citation

  • Kangsik Choi, 2009. "Envy, Inequity Aversion, and Optimal Income Taxation," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 65(1), pages 1-20, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:mhr:finarc:urn:sici:0015-2218(200903)65:1_1:eiaaoi_2.0.tx_2-i
    DOI: 10.1628/001522108X444152

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Kearney, Melissa Schettini, 2005. "The Economic Winners and Losers of Legalized Gambling," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 58(2), pages 281-302, June.
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    6. Jonathan Gruber & Botond Koszegi, 2002. "A Theory of Government Regulation of Addictive Bads: Optimal Tax Levels and Tax Incidence for Cigarette Excise Taxation," NBER Working Papers 8777, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jona Linde & Joep Sonnemans, 2012. "Social Preferences in Private Decisions," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 12-003/1, Tinbergen Institute.
    2. Linde, Jona & Sonnemans, Joep, 2015. "Decisions under risk in a social and individual context: The limits of social preferences?," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 62-71.

    More about this item


    inequity aversion; adverse selection; redistribution; trade-off;

    JEL classification:

    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • J4 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets


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