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Relational Contracts, Taxation and the Household

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  • Patricia Apps
  • Ray Rees

Abstract

This article applies the theory of relational contracts to make precise the idea that because households are engaged in a repeated non-cooperative game, Pareto efficient outcomes can be supported by self interest, given the specific pattern of specialization and exchange that exists in the household. The household's choice of a particular solution from the resulting feasible set is found by the maximization of a household welfare function, a generalization of a suggestion originally made by Samuelson. This nests as special cases the objective functions used in currently popular models of households engaged in one-shot cooperative games. We take a specific example of such a household welfare function, characterize the determinants of the household utility distribution, and then apply the model to examine the effects of a move from joint to individual taxation. We show that on standard stylized facts, secondary earners are always better off absolutely, and define the conditions under which they will also be relatively better off. This confirms the conclusions from models that concern themselves only with the across-household welfare distribution. (JEL Codes: D11, D13, H21, H24, H31, J12, J16, K36, N30) Copyright The Author 2011. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Ifo Institute for Economic Research, Munich. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Patricia Apps & Ray Rees, 2011. "Relational Contracts, Taxation and the Household," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 57(2), pages 245-258, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:cesifo:v:57:y:2011:i:2:p:245-258
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/cesifo/ifr013
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Apps, Patricia F. & Rees, Ray, 1988. "Taxation and the household," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 355-369, April.
    2. Apps,Patricia & Rees,Ray, 2009. "Public Economics and the Household," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521716284, May.
    3. Lundberg, Shelly & Pollak, Robert A, 1993. "Separate Spheres Bargaining and the Marriage Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(6), pages 988-1010, December.
    4. Alberto Alesina & Andrea Ichino & Loukas Karabarbounis, 2011. "Gender-Based Taxation and the Division of Family Chores," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 1-40, May.
    5. Abreu, Dilip, 1986. "Extremal equilibria of oligopolistic supergames," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 191-225, June.
    6. Jonathan Levin, 2003. "Relational Incentive Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 835-857, June.
    7. M. Browning & P. A. Chiappori, 1998. "Efficient Intra-Household Allocations: A General Characterization and Empirical Tests," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(6), pages 1241-1278, November.
    8. Patricia Apps & Ngo Long & Ray Rees, 2014. "Optimal Piecewise Linear Income Taxation," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 16(4), pages 523-545, August.
    9. Patricia Apps & Ray Rees, 2007. "The Taxation of Couples," Discussion Papers 07/21, Department of Economics, University of York.
    10. MacLeod, W Bentley & Malcomson, James M, 1998. "Motivation and Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 388-411, June.
    11. Rees, Ray, 1988. "Taxation and the Household," Munich Reprints in Economics 3411, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    12. Chen, Zhiqi & Woolley, Frances, 2001. "A Cournot-Nash Model of Family Decision Making," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(474), pages 722-748, October.
    13. MacLeod, W Bentley & Malcomson, James M, 1989. "Implicit Contracts, Incentive Compatibility, and Involuntary Unemployment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 447-480, March.
    14. Shelly Lundberg & Robert Pollak, 2003. "Efficiency in Marriage," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 1(3), pages 153-167, September.
    15. Apps, Patricia & Rees, Ray, 1999. "On the taxation of trade within and between households," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(2), pages 241-263, August.
    16. Manser, Marilyn & Brown, Murray, 1980. "Marriage and Household Decision-Making: A Bargaining Analysis," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 21(1), pages 31-44, February.
    17. McElroy, Marjorie B & Horney, Mary Jean, 1981. "Nash-Bargained Household Decisions: Toward a Generalization of the Theory of Demand," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 22(2), pages 333-349, June.
    18. Pollak, Robert A, 1985. "A Transaction Cost Approach to Families and Households," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 23(2), pages 581-608, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Meier, Volker & Rainer, Helmut, 2015. "Pigou meets Ramsey: Gender-based taxation with non-cooperative couples," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 28-46.
    2. Meier, Volker & Rainer, Helmut, 2012. "On the optimality of joint taxation for noncooperative couples," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 633-641.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • D13 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Production and Intrahouse Allocation
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • K36 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Family and Personal Law
    • N30 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - General, International, or Comparative

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