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Entrepreneurship, Wealth Inequality, and Taxation


  • Cesaire Meh

    (Bank of Canada)


This paper investigates the importance of entrepreneurship when quantifying the aggregate and distributional effects of switching from a progressive to a proportional income tax system. I find that the distributional consequences of the tax reform in a model economy with entrepreneurs contrast markedly from those in a model economy with no entrepreneurs. The elimination of progressive taxation has a negligible effect on wealth inequality when entrepreneurship is considered but has a large effect when entrepreneurship is omitted. The framework used is an occupational choice model, in which the decision to become an entrepreneur is determined by the ability to manage a firm and by asset holdings. The calibrated economy can account for the high savings rate of entrepreneurs relative to non-entrepreneurs, and the high concentration of wealth observed in the data. (Copyright: Elsevier)

Suggested Citation

  • Cesaire Meh, 2005. "Entrepreneurship, Wealth Inequality, and Taxation," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 8(3), pages 688-719, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:issued:v:8:y:2005:i:3:p:688-719
    DOI: 10.1016/

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ana Castañeda & Javier Díaz-Giménez & José-Víctor Ríos-Rull, "undated". ""Earnings and Wealth Inequality and Income Taxation: Quantifying the Trade-Offs of Switching to a Proportional Income Tax in the U.S.''," CARESS Working Papres 98-14, University of Pennsylvania Center for Analytic Research and Economics in the Social Sciences.
    2. Robert Carroll & Douglas Holtz-Eakin & Mark Rider & Harvey S. Rosen, 1998. "Entrepreneurs, Income Taxes, and Investment," NBER Working Papers 6374, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Alan Auerbach & Laurence Kotlikoff, 2002. "Auerbach-Kotlikoff Model," QM&RBC Codes 90, Quantitative Macroeconomics & Real Business Cycles.
    4. Marco Cagetti & Mariacristina De Nardi, 2004. "Taxation, entrepreneurship, and wealth," Staff Report 340, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    5. Charles T. Carlstrom & David Altig, 1999. "Marginal Tax Rates and Income Inequality in a Life-Cycle Model," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1197-1215, December.
    6. Vincenzo Quadrini, 2000. "Entrepreneurship, Saving and Social Mobility," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 3(1), pages 1-40, January.
    7. Abowd, John M & Card, David, 1989. "On the Covariance Structure of Earnings and Hours Changes," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 411-445, March.
    8. Barro, Robert J & Sahasakul, Chaipat, 1983. "Measuring the Average Marginal Tax Rate from the Individual Income Tax," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 56(4), pages 419-452, October.
    9. Vincenzo Quadrini & José-Víctor Ríos-Rull, 1997. "Understanding the U.S. distribution of wealth," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Spr, pages 22-36.
    10. David Altig, 2001. "Simulating Fundamental Tax Reform in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 574-595, June.
    11. Banerjee, Abhijit V & Newman, Andrew F, 1993. "Occupational Choice and the Process of Development," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(2), pages 274-298, April.
    12. Sarte, Pierre-Daniel G., 1997. "Progressive taxation and income inequality in dynamic competitive equilibrium," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 145-171, October.
    13. Robert Carroll & Douglas Holtz-Eakin & Mark Rider & Harvey Rosen, 1996. "Income Taxes and Entrepreneur' Use of Labor," Working Papers 752, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    14. Quadrini, Vincenzo, 1999. "The Importance of Entrepreneurship for Wealth Concentration and Mobility," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 45(1), pages 1-19, March.
    15. Ana Castaneda & Javier Diaz-Gimenez & Jose-Victor Rios-Rull, 2003. "Accounting for the U.S. Earnings and Wealth Inequality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(4), pages 818-857, August.
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    More about this item


    Entrepreneurship; Distribution of wealth; Progressive taxation; Proportional taxation; Financial constraints.;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General


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