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Estate taxation with warm-glow altruism

  • Carlos Garriga
  • Fernando Sánchez-Losada


This article examines the properties of the optimal fiscal policy in an economy with warm-glow altruism (utility interdependence) and heterogeneous individuals. We propose a new efficiency concept, D-efficiency, that considers an implicit constraint in the act of giving: donors cannot bequeath to donees more than their existing resources. Considering this constraint, we show that the market equilibrium is not socially efficient. The efficient level of bequest transfers can be implemented by the market with estate and labor-income subsidies and a capital-income tax. In the absence of lump-sum taxation, the government faces a trade-off between minimizing distortions and eliminating external effects. The implied tax policy differs from Pigovian taxation since the government's ability to correct the external effects is limited. Finally, we show that the efficiency-equity trade-off does not affect the qualitative features of the optimal distortionary fiscal policy.

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Article provided by Springer in its journal Portuguese Economic Journal.

Volume (Year): 8 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 (August)
Pages: 99-118

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Handle: RePEc:spr:portec:v:8:y:2009:i:2:p:99-118
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  1. V. V. Chari & Patrick J. Kehoe, 1998. "Optimal fiscal and monetary policy," Staff Report 251, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  2. Philippe Michel & Pierre Pestieau, 2004. "Fiscal Policy in an Overlapping Generations Model with Bequest-as-Consumption," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 6(3), pages 397-407, 08.
  3. Laitner, John, 1993. "Intergenerational and interhousehold economic links," Handbook of Population and Family Economics, in: M. R. Rosenzweig & Stark, O. (ed.), Handbook of Population and Family Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 5, pages 189-238 Elsevier.
  4. Davies, James B. & Shorrocks, Anthony F., 2000. "The distribution of wealth," Handbook of Income Distribution, in: A.B. Atkinson & F. Bourguignon (ed.), Handbook of Income Distribution, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 11, pages 605-675 Elsevier.
  5. Lucas, Robert Jr. & Stokey, Nancy L., 1983. "Optimal fiscal and monetary policy in an economy without capital," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 55-93.
  6. William G. Gale & John Karl Scholz, 1994. "Intergenerational Transfers and the Accumulation of Wealth," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 145-160, Fall.
  7. Cremer, Helmuth & Pestieau, Pierre, 2006. "Wealth transfer taxation: a survey of the theoretical literature," Handbook on the Economics of Giving, Reciprocity and Altruism, Elsevier.
  8. Carlos Garriga, 2001. "Optimal Fiscal Policy in Overlapping Generations Models," Working Papers in Economics 66, Universitat de Barcelona. Espai de Recerca en Economia.
  9. Andres Erosa & Martin Gervais, 2000. "Optimal taxation in life-cycle economies," Working Paper 00-02, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
  10. Mariacristina De Nardi, 2004. "Wealth Inequality and Intergenerational Links," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(3), pages 743-768.
  11. MICHEL, Philippe & PESTIEAU, Pierre, 1998. "Fiscal policy when individuals differ regarding to altruism and labor supply," CORE Discussion Papers 1998040, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  12. Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Lawrence H. Summers, 1986. "The Contribution of Intergenerational Transfers to Total Wealth: A Reply," NBER Working Papers 1827, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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