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Does redistribution increase output? The centrality of labor supply

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  • Kartik Athreya
  • Andrew Owens
  • Felipe Schwartzman

Abstract

The aftermath of the recent recession has seen calls to use transfers to poorer households as a means to enhance aggregate economic activity. The goal of this paper is to study the effects of wealth redistribution from rich to poor households on consumption and output in the short run. We first demonstrate analytically how the direction and size of the output effects of such interventions depend on labor supply decisions. We then show that in a standard incomplete‐markets model extended to allow for nominal rigidities and parametrized to match the U.S. wealth distribution, wealth redistribution does lead to a temporary boom in consumption but a far smaller increase in output. Our results suggest substantial value in empirical research uncovering the distribution of marginal propensities to work in the population.

Suggested Citation

  • Kartik Athreya & Andrew Owens & Felipe Schwartzman, 2017. "Does redistribution increase output? The centrality of labor supply," Quantitative Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 8(3), pages 761-808, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:quante:v:8:y:2017:i:3:p:761-808
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Jonathan Heathcote, 2005. "Fiscal Policy with Heterogeneous Agents and Incomplete Markets," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 72(1), pages 161-188.
    2. Tullio Jappelli & Luigi Pistaferri, 2014. "Fiscal Policy and MPC Heterogeneity," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(4), pages 107-136, October.
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    4. Conesa, Juan Carlos & Krueger, Dirk, 2006. "On the optimal progressivity of the income tax code," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(7), pages 1425-1450, October.
    5. Oh, Hyunseung & Reis, Ricardo, 2012. "Targeted transfers and the fiscal response to the great recession," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(S), pages 50-64.
    6. Alisdair McKay & Ricardo Reis, 2016. "The Role of Automatic Stabilizers in the U.S. Business Cycle," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 84, pages 141-194, January.
    7. Jonathan Huntley & Valentina Michelangeli, 2014. "Can Tax Rebates Stimulate Consumption Spending in a Life-Cycle Model?," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(1), pages 162-189, January.
    8. Alonso-Ortiz, Jorge & Rogerson, Richard, 2010. "Taxes, transfers and employment in an incomplete markets model," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(8), pages 949-958, November.
    9. J. Stephen Ferris, 2013. "Fiscal policy," Chapters, in: William F. Shughart II & Laura Razzolini & Michael Reksulak (ed.), The Elgar Companion to Public Choice, Second Edition, chapter 16, pages 260-283, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    10. Per Krusell & Anthony A. Smith & Jr., 1998. "Income and Wealth Heterogeneity in the Macroeconomy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(5), pages 867-896, October.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Krueger, D. & Mitman, K. & Perri, F., 2016. "Macroeconomics and Household Heterogeneity," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & Harald Uhlig (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 0, pages 843-921, Elsevier.
    2. Neil R. Mehrotra, 2018. "Fiscal Policy Stabilization: Purchases or Transfers?," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 14(2), pages 1-50, March.
    3. Ciminelli, Gabriele & Ernst, Ekkehard & Merola, Rossana & Giuliodori, Massimo, 2019. "The composition effects of tax-based consolidation on income inequality," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 107-124.
    4. Alisdair McKay & Ricardo Reis, 2016. "The Role of Automatic Stabilizers in the U.S. Business Cycle," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 84, pages 141-194, January.
    5. Matthew Rognlie & Adrien Auclert, 2016. "Inequality and Aggregate Demand," 2016 Meeting Papers 1353, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    6. Pedro Brinca & Hans Holter & Miguel Faria-e-Castro & Miguel Ferreira, 2019. "The Nonlinear Effects of Fiscal Policy," 2019 Meeting Papers 934, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    7. Giambattista,Eric & Pennings,Steven Michael, 2017. "When is the government transfer multiplier large ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 8184, The World Bank.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E25 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Aggregate Factor Income Distribution
    • D90 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - General
    • E63 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Comparative or Joint Analysis of Fiscal and Monetary Policy; Stabilization; Treasury Policy
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth

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