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Redistribution in Switzerland: Social Cohesion or Simple Smoothing of Lifetime Incomes?

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  • Monika Engler

Abstract

Using the example of Switzerland, this paper examines the extent to which the state and the social security institutions change the income distribution. Two sets of questions are examined: (1) Who benefits from the public services, and who bears the public costs? (2) To what extent does an annual redistribution involve redistribution (a) across households with different lifetime income, and (b) across different phases of life within the same households? Budget incidence analyses and pseudo panel procedures allow to compare annual and lifetime household incomes that arise before and after transfers. The results suggest that public interventions induce substantial redistribution, which is due primarily, however, to income-smoothing transfers within households and not to redistribution across households.

Suggested Citation

  • Monika Engler, 2011. "Redistribution in Switzerland: Social Cohesion or Simple Smoothing of Lifetime Incomes?," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 147(II), pages 107-155, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:ses:arsjes:2011-ii-1
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Fullerton, Don & Metcalf, Gilbert E., 2002. "Tax incidence," Handbook of Public Economics,in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 26, pages 1787-1872 Elsevier.
    2. Verbeek, Marno & Nijman, Theo, 1992. "Can Cohort Data Be Treated as Genuine Panel Data?," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 17(1), pages 9-23.
    3. Deaton, Angus, 1985. "Panel data from time series of cross-sections," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1-2), pages 109-126.
    4. Nelissen, Jan H. M., 1998. "Annual versus lifetime income redistribution by social security," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 223-249, May.
    5. Aaron, Henry & McGuire, Martin, 1970. "Public Goods and Income Distribution," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 38(6), pages 907-920, November.
    6. Browning, Martin & Deaton, Angus & Irish, Margaret, 1985. "A Profitable Approach to Labor Supply and Commodity Demands over the Life-Cycle," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(3), pages 503-543, May.
    7. Jean-Marc Falter, 2006. "Equivalence Scales and Subjective Data in Switzerland," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 142(II), pages 263-284, June.
    8. Davies, James B & St-Hilaire, France & Whalley, John, 1984. "Some Calculations of Lifetime Tax Incidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(4), pages 633-649, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Foellmi, Reto & Martinez, Isabel Z., 2017. "Die Verteilung von Einkommen und Vermögen in der Schweiz
      [The Distribution of Income and Wealth in Switzerland]
      ," MPRA Paper 84443, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Oliver Hümbelin, 2016. "Ungleichheit und Umverteilung über das Steuersystem. Eine Analyse der Verteilungseffekte von direkten Steuern und steuerlichen Abzügen mit Steuerdaten des Kantons Aargau (2001-2011)," University of Bern Social Sciences Working Papers 23, University of Bern, Department of Social Sciences.
    3. Oliver Hümbelin & Rudolf Farys, 2017. "Redistribution through taxes and deductions. A decomposition analysis with administrative tax data from Switzerland," University of Bern Social Sciences Working Papers 26, University of Bern, Department of Social Sciences.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Budget Incidence Analysis; Redistribution; Lifetime Income Smoothing; Pseudo Panel Procedure;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • H22 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Incidence

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