IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/wly/econjl/vy2015i583p235-268.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

In Praise of Frank Ramsey's Contribution to the Theory of Taxation

Author

Listed:
  • Joseph E. Stiglitz

Abstract

Frank Ramsey's classic paper "A contribution to the theory of taxation" gave rise to the modern theory of optimal taxation. This paper traces the literature that grew out of Ramsey's 1927 paper and assesses which of its key insights has proven robust. Though the path breaking work of Peter Diamond and James Mirrlees showed that Ramsey's results could be generalized in some important ways, other work showed that the domain of applicability of Ramsey's original insights may be more limited: changes in assumptions about the set of feasible taxes (not allowing certain taxes, or allowing a progressive income tax or non-linear commodity taxes), and in particular about the taxation of pure rents, incorporating more explicitly distributional considerations, and/or recognizing the important ways in which our economy differs from the competitive model underlying Ramsey's analysis all change the optimal structure of commodity taxation in important ways.
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

Suggested Citation

  • Joseph E. Stiglitz, 2015. "In Praise of Frank Ramsey's Contribution to the Theory of Taxation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 0(583), pages 235-268, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:econjl:v::y:2015:i:583:p:235-268
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/ecoj.2015.125.issue-583
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Inge Mayeres & Stef Proost, 1997. "Optimal Tax and Public Investment Rules for Congestion Type of Externalities," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 99(2), pages 261-279, June.
    2. Robin Boadway & Motohiro Sato, 2009. "Optimal Tax Design and Enforcement with an Informal Sector," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 1-27, February.
    3. Emran, M. Shahe & Stiglitz, Joseph E., 2005. "On selective indirect tax reform in developing countries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(4), pages 599-623, April.
    4. N. Gregory Mankiw & Matthew Weinzierl & Danny Yagan, 2009. "Optimal Taxation in Theory and Practice," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(4), pages 147-174, Fall.
    5. Kaplow, Louis, 2006. "On the undesirability of commodity taxation even when income taxation is not optimal," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(6-7), pages 1235-1250, August.
    6. Aiyagari, S Rao, 1995. "Optimal Capital Income Taxation with Incomplete Markets, Borrowing Constraints, and Constant Discounting," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(6), pages 1158-1175, December.
    7. Cremer, Helmuth & Pestieau, Pierre & Rochet, Jean-Charles, 2003. "Capital income taxation when inherited wealth is not observable," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(11), pages 2475-2490, October.
    8. Laroque, Guy R., 2005. "Indirect taxation is superfluous under separability and taste homogeneity: a simple proof," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 87(1), pages 141-144, April.
    9. Bovenberg, A Lans & Goulder, Lawrence H, 1996. "Optimal Environmental Taxation in the Presence of Other Taxes: General-Equilibrium Analyses," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 985-1000, September.
    10. Baumol, William J, 1982. "Contestable Markets: An Uprising in the Theory of Industry Structure," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(1), pages 1-15, March.
    11. J. A. Mirrlees, 1971. "An Exploration in the Theory of Optimum Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(2), pages 175-208.
    12. Juan Carlos Conesa & Sagiri Kitao & Dirk Krueger, 2009. "Taxing Capital? Not a Bad Idea after All!," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 25-48, March.
    13. Piketty, Thomas & Saez, Emmanuel, 2012. "A Theory of Optimal Capital Taxation," CEPR Discussion Papers 8946, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    14. Farrell, Joseph, 1986. "How effective is potential competition?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 67-70.
    15. Konishi, Hideo, 1995. "A Pareto-improving commodity tax reform under a smooth nonlinear income tax," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(3), pages 413-446, March.
    16. Bovenberg, A.L. & Goulder, L.H., 1996. "Optimal environmental taxation in the presence of other taxes : General equilibrium analyses," Other publications TiSEM 5d4b7517-c5c8-4ef6-ab76-3, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    17. Judd, Kenneth L., 1985. "Redistributive taxation in a simple perfect foresight model," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 59-83, October.
    18. Nordhaus, William D, 1993. "Optimal Greenhouse-Gas Reductions and Tax Policy in the "Dice" Model," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 313-317, May.
    19. Chamley, Christophe, 1986. "Optimal Taxation of Capital Income in General Equilibrium with Infinite Lives," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(3), pages 607-622, May.
    20. Andrew Atkeson & V. V. Chari & Patrick J. Kehoe, 1999. "Taxing capital income: a bad idea," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, vol. 23(Sum), pages 3-17.
    21. Diamond, P. A., 1975. "A many-person Ramsey tax rule," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(4), pages 335-342, November.
    22. De Bonis, Valeria & Spataro, Luca, 2005. "Taxing Capital Income As Pigouvian Correction: The Role Of Discounting The Future," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 9(4), pages 469-477, September.
    23. Keen, Michael, 2008. "VAT, tariffs, and withholding: Border taxes and informality in developing countries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(10-11), pages 1892-1906, October.
    24. Cremer, Helmuth & Gahvari, Firouz & Ladoux, Norbert, 1998. "Externalities and optimal taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(3), pages 343-364, December.
    25. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1990. "Supply-Side Economics: An Analytical Review," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 42(2), pages 293-316, April.
    26. Bruce C. Greenwald & Joseph E. Stiglitz, 1986. "Externalities in Economies with Imperfect Information and Incomplete Markets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(2), pages 229-264.
    27. Brock, William A, 1983. "Contestable Markets and the Theory of Industry Structure: A Review Article," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(6), pages 1055-1066, December.
    28. Atkinson, A. B. & Stiglitz, J. E., 1972. "The structure of indirect taxation and economic efficiency," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 97-119, April.
    29. Baumol, William J & Bradford, David F, 1970. "Optimal Departures from Marginal Cost Pricing," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(3), pages 265-283, June.
    30. Mayeres, Inge & Proost, Stef, 1997. " Optimal Tax and Public Investment Rules for Congestion Type of Externalities," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 99(2), pages 261-279, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Firouz Gahvari & Luca Micheletto, 2019. "Heterogeneity, monetary policy, Mirrleesian taxes, and the Friedman rule," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 67(4), pages 983-1018, June.
    2. Chugh, Sanjay K. & Lechthaler, Wolfgang & Merkl, Christian, 2018. "Optimal fiscal policy with labor selection," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 142-189.
    3. Valeria Bonis & Luca Spataro, 2018. "Optimal income taxation and migration," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 25(4), pages 867-882, August.
    4. Junichi Minagawa & Thorsten Upmann, 2018. "Optimal taxation under a consumption target," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 50(4), pages 663-676, April.
    5. Bastani, Spencer & Blomquist, Sören & Micheletto, Luca, 2016. "Optimal commodity taxation with varying quality of goods," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 89-100.
    6. Diego Fernández Felices & Isidro Guardarucci & Jorge Puig, 2016. "El Impuesto al Valor Agregado en Argentina. Consideraciones sobre su incidencia distributiva y propuestas de reforma," Revista Actualidad Económica, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Facultad de Ciencias Económicas, Instituto de Economía y Finanzas, vol. 0(90), pages 29-38.
    7. Gahvari, Firouz & Micheletto, Luca, 2016. "Capital income taxation and the Atkinson–Stiglitz theorem," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 147(C), pages 86-89.
    8. José Mª Durán-Cabré & Julien Daubanes & Pierre-Yves Yanni & Xavier Oberson & Uwe Thuemmel, 2019. "The Taxation of Robots / La tributación de los robots / La tributació dels robots en sistemes de salut descentralitzats," IEB Reports ieb_report_2_2019, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
    9. Torben M. Andersen, 2020. "Taxation of capital income in overlapping generations economies," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 22(5), pages 1245-1261, September.
    10. Albertsen, Lau H. & Andersen, Mads & Boscán, Luis R. & Santos, Athila Q., 2020. "Implementing dynamic electricity taxation in Denmark," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 143(C).
    11. Kristjánsson, Arnaldur Sölvi, 2016. "Optimal Taxation with Endogenous Return to Capital," Memorandum 06/2016, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
    12. Helmuth Cremer & Firouz Gahvari, 2017. "Restoring Ramsey tax lessons to Mirrleesian tax settings: Atkinson–Stiglitz and Ramsey reconciled," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 49(1), pages 11-35, June.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Stiglitz, Joseph E., 2018. "Pareto efficient taxation and expenditures: Pre- and re-distribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 162(C), pages 101-119.
    2. Robin Boadway, 2011. "Viewpoint: Innovations in the theory and practice of redistribution policy," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 44(4), pages 1138-1183, November.
    3. George Economides & Apostolis Philippopoulos & Anastasios Rizos, 2020. "Optimal tax policy under tax evasion," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 27(2), pages 339-362, April.
    4. C. Benassi & E. Randon, 2015. "Optimal Commodity Taxation and Income Distribution," Working Papers wp1001, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
    5. Bierbrauer Felix J., 2016. "Effizienz oder Gerechtigkeit?," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, De Gruyter, vol. 17(1), pages 2-24, April.
    6. Wojciech Kopczuk, 2012. "Taxation of Intergenerational Transfers and Wealth," NBER Working Papers 18584, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Spencer Bastani & Daniel Waldenström, 2020. "How Should Capital Be Taxed?," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 34(4), pages 812-846, September.
    8. Diamond, Peter, 2010. "Taxes and Pensions," Economic Policy, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, vol. 6, pages 59-74.
    9. Felix Bierbrauer, 2016. "Effizienz oder Gerechtigkeit? Ungleiche Einkommen, ungleiche Vermögen und die Theorie der optimalen Besteuerung," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2016_03, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
    10. Saez, Emmanuel, 2013. "Optimal progressive capital income taxes in the infinite horizon model," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 61-74.
    11. Jacquet, Laurence & Lehmann, Etienne, 2021. "How to Tax Different Incomes?," IZA Discussion Papers 14739, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    12. Biljanovska, Nina & Vardoulakis, Alexandros P., 2019. "Capital taxation with heterogeneous discounting and collateralized borrowing," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 97-109.
    13. Boháček, Radim & Kejak, Michal, 2018. "Optimal government policies in models with heterogeneous agents," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 176(C), pages 834-858.
    14. Harashima, Taiji, 2020. "An Alternative Rationale for the Necessity of an Inheritance Tax," MPRA Paper 100015, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    15. Woodland, A., 2016. "Taxation, Pensions, and Demographic Change," Handbook of the Economics of Population Aging, in: Piggott, John & Woodland, Alan (ed.), Handbook of the Economics of Population Aging, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 0, pages 713-780, Elsevier.
    16. Chari, V.V. & Nicolini, Juan Pablo & Teles, Pedro, 2020. "Optimal capital taxation revisited," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 147-165.
    17. Dirk Krueger, 2006. "Public Insurance against Idiosyncratic and Aggregate Risk: The Case of Social Security and Progressive Income Taxation," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 52(4), pages 587-620, December.
    18. Sagiri Kitao, 2010. "Labor-dependent Capital Income Taxation That Encourages Work and Saving," 2010 Meeting Papers 271, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    19. Petrucci, Alberto, 2015. "Optimal income taxation in models with endogenous fertility," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 216-225.
    20. Alberto Petrucci, 2007. "Optimal Taxation of Capital Income in Models with Endogenous Fertility," Development Working Papers 228, Centro Studi Luca d'Agliano, University of Milano.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    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:wly:econjl:v::y:2015:i:583:p:235-268. 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: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/resssea.html .

    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.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with 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.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Wiley Content Delivery (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/resssea.html .

    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.