IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Some Marginalist Intuition Concerning the Optimal Commodity Tax Problem


  • Craig Brett


The author offers a simple intuition that can be exploited to derive and to help interpret some canonical results in the theory of optimal commodity taxation. He develops and explores the principle that the marginal social welfare loss per last unit of tax revenue generated be equalized across tax instruments. A simple two-consumer, two-taxed-commodity economy is used to explore how this intuition can be used to derive the famous inverse elasticity rule, as well as the modifications and extensions needed to account for the redistributive effects of commodity taxes.

Suggested Citation

  • Craig Brett, 2006. "Some Marginalist Intuition Concerning the Optimal Commodity Tax Problem," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(4), pages 459-469, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jeduce:v:37:y:2006:i:4:p:459-469 DOI: 10.3200/JECE.37.4.459-469

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Todd Sandler, 2003. "Collective Action and Transnational Terrorism," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 26(6), pages 779-802, June.
    2. Alan B. Krueger & Jitka Maleckova, 2003. "Education, Poverty and Terrorism: Is There a Causal Connection?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(4), pages 119-144, Fall.
    3. Sandler, Todd & Enders, Walter, 2004. "An economic perspective on transnational terrorism," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 301-316, June.
    4. Lapan, Harvey E & Sandler, Todd, 1988. "To Bargain or Not to Bargain: That Is the Question," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(2), pages 16-21, May.
    5. Bruno S. Frey & Simon Luechinger, "undated". "How to Fight Terrorism: Alternatives to Deterrence," IEW - Working Papers 137, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    6. Charles Anderton & John Carter, 2005. "On Rational Choice Theory And The Study Of Terrorism," Defence and Peace Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(4), pages 275-282.
    7. Enders, Walter & Sandler, Todd, 1995. "Terrorism: Theory and applications," Handbook of Defense Economics,in: Keith Hartley & Todd Sandler (ed.), Handbook of Defense Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 9, pages 213-249 Elsevier.
    8. Sandler,Todd & Hartley,Keith, 1995. "The Economics of Defense," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521447287, March.
    9. Lee, Dwight R, 1988. "Free Riding and Paid Riding in the Fight against Terrorism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(2), pages 22-26, May.
    10. Todd Sandler & Kevin Siqueira, 2006. "Global terrorism: deterrence versus pre-emption," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 39(4), pages 1370-1387, November.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:taf:jeduce:v:37:y:2006:i:4:p:459-469. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Chris Longhurst). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.