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

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  • 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.
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  • 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
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/ecoj.2015.125.issue-583
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:spr:sochwe:v:50:y:2018:i:4:d:10.1007_s00355-017-1100-6 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. Gahvari, Firouz & Micheletto, Luca, 2016. "Capital income taxation and the Atkinson–Stiglitz theorem," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 147(C), pages 86-89.
    5. Kristjánsson, Arnaldur Sölvi, 2016. "Optimal Taxation with Endogenous Return to Capital," Memorandum 06/2016, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
    6. repec:spr:sochwe:v:49:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s00355-017-1046-8 is not listed on IDEAS

    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

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