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The Tax Unit and Household Production

  • Piggott, John
  • Whalley, John

This paper challenges the conventional wisdom that, on efficiency grounds, taxing individuals is always preferred to taxing households in a progressive income tax. The reason is that tax design affects the input of family members' time not only into market production and consumption of leisure but into household production as well. A simple numerical example is used to illustrate this possibility and a general equilibrium model calibrated to Australian data suggests that such a result can occur for actual tax structures in use. Copyright 1996 by University of Chicago Press.

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Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Political Economy.

Volume (Year): 104 (1996)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 398-418

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:104:y:1996:i:2:p:398-418
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  1. Kakwani, Nanok C, 1977. "Measurement of Tax Progressivity: An International Comparison," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 87(345), pages 71-80, March.
  2. Wales, Terence J & Woodland, A D, 1977. "Estimation of the Allocation of Time for Work, Leisure, and Housework," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(1), pages 115-32, January.
  3. Juster, F Thomas & Stafford, Frank P, 1991. "The Allocation of Time: Empirical Findings, Behavioral Models, and Problems of Measurement," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 29(2), pages 471-522, June.
  4. Harvey S. Rosen, 1978. "The Measurement of Excess Burden with Explicit Utility Functions," NBER Chapters, in: Research in Taxation, pages 121-135 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Boskin, Michael J. & Sheshinski, Eytan, 1983. "Optimal tax treatment of the family: Married couples," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 281-297, April.
  6. Daniel R. Feenberg & Harvey S. Rosen, 1994. "Recent Developments in the Marriage Tax," NBER Working Papers 4705, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Haurin, Donald R & Hendershott, Patric H & Kim, Dongwook, 1993. "The Impact of Real Rents and Wages on Household Formation," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 75(2), pages 284-93, May.
  8. Kay, J. A., 1980. "The deadweight loss from a tax system," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 111-119, February.
  9. Wales, T J & Woodland, A D, 1976. "Estimation of Household Utility Functions and Labor Supply Response," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 17(2), pages 397-410, June.
  10. Boskin, Michael J., 1975. "Efficiency aspects of the differential tax treatment of market and household economic activity," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(1), pages 1-25, February.
  11. Killingsworth, Mark R. & Heckman, James J., 1987. "Female labor supply: A survey," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & R. Layard (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 2, pages 103-204 Elsevier.
  12. Berndt, Ernst R, 1976. "Reconciling Alternative Estimates of the Elasticity of Substitution," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 58(1), pages 59-68, February.
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