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Tackling income inequality: The role of taxes and transfers

Author

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  • Isabelle Joumard

    () (OECD)

  • Mauro Pisu
  • Debbie Bloch

Abstract

Taxes and transfers reduce inequality in disposable income relative to market income. The effect varies, however, across OECD countries. The redistributive impact of taxes and transfers depends on the size, mix and the progressivity of each component. Some countries with a relatively small tax and welfare system (e.g. Australia) achieve the same redistributive impact as countries characterised by much higher taxes and transfers (e.g. Germany) because they rely more on income taxes, which are more progressive than other taxes, and on means-tested cash transfers. This article provides an assessment of the redistributive effect of the main taxes and cash transfers, based on various OECD data sources, a set of policy indicators and a literature review. Using cluster analysis, it also identifies empirically four groups of countries with tax and transfer systems that share broadly similar features.

Suggested Citation

  • Isabelle Joumard & Mauro Pisu & Debbie Bloch, 2012. "Tackling income inequality: The role of taxes and transfers," OECD Journal: Economic Studies, OECD Publishing, vol. 2012(1), pages 37-70.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:ecokac:5k95xd6l65lt
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/eco_studies-2012-5k95xd6l65lt
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    Cited by:

    1. Orsetta Causa & Alain de Serres & Nicolas Ruiz, 2015. "Can pro-growth policies lift all boats?: An analysis based on household disposable income," OECD Journal: Economic Studies, OECD Publishing, vol. 2015(1), pages 227-268.
    2. repec:jns:jbstat:v:237:y:2017:i:3:p:225-273:n:5 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Branko Milanovic & Sean Higgins & Nora Lustig & Whitney Ruble & Timothy M. Smeeding, 2016. "Comparing the Incidence of Taxes and Social Spending in Brazil and the United States," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 62, pages 22-46, August.
    4. Stossberg Sibylle & Blöchliger Hansjörg, 2017. "Fiscal Decentralisation and Income Inequality: Empirical Evidence from OECD Countries," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 237(3), pages 225-273, June.
    5. repec:ilo:ilowps:485510 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Fackler, Daniel & Hank, Eva, 2016. "Who buffers income losses after job displacement? The role of alternative income sources, the family, and the state," IWH Discussion Papers 28/2016, Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH).
    7. Maria Alessandra Antonelli & Valeria De Bonis, 2015. "Dynamics in an olg model with non-separable preferences," Public Finance Research Papers 16, Istituto di Economia e Finanza, DIGEF, Sapienza University of Rome.
    8. Daniel Fackler & Eva Hank, 2016. "Who Buffers Income Losses after Job Displacement? The Role of Alternative Income Sources, the Family, and the State," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 863, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    9. Maria Alessandra Antonelli & Valeria De Bonis, 2016. "Clustering European Welfare Systems through a Performance Index," Public Finance Research Papers 18, Istituto di Economia e Finanza, DIGEF, Sapienza University of Rome.
    10. Hank, Eva & Fackler, Daniel, 2017. "Who buffers income losses after job displacement? The role of alternative income sources, the family, and the state," Annual Conference 2017 (Vienna): Alternative Structures for Money and Banking 168098, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    11. Heshmati, Almas & Kim, Jungsuk & Park, Donghyun, 2014. "Fiscal Policy and Inclusive Growth in Advanced Countries: Their Experience and Implications for Asia," ADB Economics Working Paper Series 422, Asian Development Bank.
    12. Paula Garda & Volker Ziemann, 2014. "Economic Policies and Microeconomic Stability: A Literature Review and Some Empirics," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 1115, OECD Publishing.
    13. Godar, Sarah. & Paetz, Christoph. & Truger, Achim., 2014. "Progressive tax reform in OECD countries : perspectives and obstacles," ILO Working Papers 994855103402676, International Labour Organization.
    14. Oguzhan Akgun & Boris Cournède & Jean-Marc Fournier, 2017. "The effects of the tax mix on inequality and growth," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 1447, OECD Publishing.
    15. Duane Swank, 2015. "The Political Foundations of Redistribution in Post-industrial Democracies," LIS Working papers 653, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    16. Martner Fanta, Ricardo & Gonzales, Ivonne & Podestá, Andrea, 2013. "Políticas fiscales para el crecimiento y la igualdad," Macroeconomía del Desarrollo 138, Naciones Unidas Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL).
    17. Takanori Sumino, 2016. "Level or Concentration? A Cross-national Analysis of Public Attitudes Towards Taxation Policies," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 129(3), pages 1115-1134, December.
    18. repec:eee:ecmode:v:65:y:2017:i:c:p:119-128 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. ZHAO Meng (KONISHI Moe), 2017. "Health-Related Income Gaps and the Effectiveness of Redistributive Policies in Japan," Discussion papers 17039, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    20. P Sivashankar & RMPS Rathnayake & Maneka Jayasinghe & Christine Smith, 2017. "Incidence of value added taxation on inequality: Evidence from Sri Lanka," Discussion Papers in Economics economics:201704, Griffith University, Department of Accounting, Finance and Economics.
    21. Friedl, Andreas & Görlich, Dennis & Horn, Sebastian & Krieger-Boden, Christiane & Lücke, Matthias, 2015. "How to deal with inequality: Welfare system challenges and European responses," Kiel Policy Brief 85, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).

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