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An Experimental Economics Investigation of the Land Value Tax: Efficiency, Acceptability, and Positional Goods


  • Joshua M. Duke
  • TianHang Gao


This research offers the first economic experiment investigating the land tax, where landowners invest under different property tax regimes. A voting treatment assesses the relative acceptability of land value taxation. Results show a land tax produced greater overall welfare in only 37.5% of the experiment sessions. Systematic overinvestment arises from the positional-good characteristic of residential land investment, but this effect vanishes when the positional-good indicator is removed. The experiments show that the participants unexpectedly voted in favor of the land tax, suggesting that the efficiency and acceptability of the land tax may be more complex than in nonbehavioral economics modeling.

Suggested Citation

  • Joshua M. Duke & TianHang Gao, 2018. "An Experimental Economics Investigation of the Land Value Tax: Efficiency, Acceptability, and Positional Goods," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 94(4), pages 475-495.
  • Handle: RePEc:uwp:landec:v:94:y:2018:i:4:p:475-495
    Note: DOI: 10.3368/le.94.4.475

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    JEL classification:

    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H71 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue


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