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Should Legal Rules Favor the Poor? Clarifying the Role of Legal Rules and the Income Tax in Redistributing Income

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  • Kaplow, Louis
  • Shavell, Steven

Abstract

In our 1994 article in this journal, we demonstrated that legal rules should not be adjusted to disfavor the rich and favor the poor in order to redistribute income, because the income tax and transfer system is a more efficient means of redistribution. In this article, we revisit our argument and others that favor relying on the income tax system to redistribute income, and we then focus on qualifications to our argument that we previously offered. In particular, we elaborate on a qualification that is the subject of Chris Sanchirico's article in this issue of the Journal and explain why it has only a tangential bearing on the question whether legal rules should favor the poor and why it is of doubtful practical importance. Copyright 2000 by the University of Chicago.

Suggested Citation

  • Kaplow, Louis & Shavell, Steven, 2000. "Should Legal Rules Favor the Poor? Clarifying the Role of Legal Rules and the Income Tax in Redistributing Income," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(2), pages 821-835, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlstud:v:29:y:2000:i:2:p:821-35
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/468095
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Garoupa, Nuno & Stephen, Frank, 2003. "A Note on Optimal Law Enforcement with Legal Aid," CEPR Discussion Papers 4113, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Matthew Adler & Eric A. Posner, 2008. "Happiness Research and Cost-Benefit Analysis," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 37(S2), pages 253-292, June.
    3. Éric Langlais, 2008. "Indemnisation des préjudices et fréquence des procès en présence d'une asymétrie d'information sur l'aversion au risque des parties," Recherches économiques de Louvain, De Boeck Université, vol. 74(2), pages 191-218.
    4. Dari-Mattiacci, Giuseppe & Langlais, Eric, 2012. "Social Wealth and Optimal Care," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 271-284.
    5. Langlais, Eric, 2010. "Safety and the Allocation of Costs in Large Accidents," MPRA Paper 25710, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Ganuza Juan-Jose & Gomez Fernando, 2006. "Caution, Children Crossing: Heterogeneity of Victim's Cost of Care and the Negligence Rule," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 1(3), pages 365-397, January.
    7. Aronsson, Thomas & Johansson-Stenman, Olof, 2011. "Animal Welfare and Social Decisions," Working Papers in Economics 485, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    8. Juan José Ganuza & Fernando Gómez, 2002. "Caution, children crossing: Heterogeneity of victim's cost of care and negligence rule," Economics Working Papers 666, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
    9. Hackney, James Jr., 2003. "Law and neoclassical economics theory: a critical history of the distribution/efficiency debate," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 361-390, September.
    10. Blumkin, Tomer & Margalioth, Yoram & Sadka, Efraim, 2007. "Anti-discrimination rules versus income taxation in the pursuit of horizontal equity," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(5-6), pages 1167-1176, June.
    11. Cass R. Sunstein, 2015. "Unhelpful Abstractions and the Standard View," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 12(1), pages 68-71, January.

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