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Public Economics in Action: The Basic Income/Flat Tax Proposal


  • Atkinson, A. B.

    (Nuffield College, Oxford)


This book surveys recent developments in public economics by taking as a case-study the proposals for a basic income/flat tax scheme. It discusses various approaches to taxation and presents a framework for a system that would affect both personal income and the social security system, replacing the one by a flat-rate income tax and the other by a guaranteed income. This idea has generated wide interest in a number of countries, and is being actively discussed by several political parties. This book explains how these changes would benefit a wide variety of social groups, leading to a greater redistribution of income. At the same time, it also raises the question of whether a single reform can meet the very different objectives of different supporters. The author reviews different areas of public economics in which there has been active research in recent years-- namely the theory of optimum taxation, public choice theory, general equilibrium analysis of incidence, numerical tax- benefit modelling, and econometric studies of work incentives--and asks how these contribute to our understanding of this particular policy reform. He also indicates the promising directions for future research. The author does not argue for or against the basic income/flat tax proposal, but believes it should be on the agenda for any serious discussion of tax and social security reform for the twenty-first century.

Suggested Citation

  • Atkinson, A. B., 1996. "Public Economics in Action: The Basic Income/Flat Tax Proposal," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198292166.
  • Handle: RePEc:oxp:obooks:9780198292166

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gordon,Robert J., 2004. "Productivity Growth, Inflation, and Unemployment," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521531429, March.
    2. Dale W. Jorgenson, 2001. "Information Technology and the U.S. Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 1-32, March.
    3. Gordon,Robert J., 2004. "Productivity Growth, Inflation, and Unemployment," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521800082, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Cremer, Helmuth & Roeder, Kerstin, 2015. "Means testing versus basic income: The (lack of) political support for a universal allowance," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 136(C), pages 81-84.
    2. repec:kap:itaxpf:v:24:y:2017:i:6:d:10.1007_s10797-017-9446-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Sean Slack & David Ulph, 2014. "Optimal Universal and Categorical Benefits with Classification Errors and Imperfect Enforcement," Discussion Paper Series, Department of Economics 201411, Department of Economics, University of St. Andrews.
    4. Norbert Švarda, 2015. "The End of the Flat Tax Experiment in Slovakia," Discussion Papers 33, Central European Labour Studies Institute (CELSI).
    5. Islam, Nizamul & Colombino, Ugo, 2017. "The Case for NIT+FT in Europe: An Empirical Optimal Taxation Exercise," IZA Discussion Papers 11147, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Michael Spackman, 2011. "Government discounting controversies: the valuation of social time preference," GRI Working Papers 68, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
    7. Ugo Colombino, 2015. "Is unconditional basic income a viable alternative to other social welfare measures?," IZA World of Labor, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), pages 128-128, February.
    8. Slack, Sean & Ulph, David, 2014. "Optimal Universal and Categorical Benefits with Classification Errors and Imperfect Enforcement," 2007 Annual Meeting, July 29-August 1, 2007, Portland, Oregon TN 2015-13, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    9. Slack, Sean & Ulph, David, 2014. "Optimal Universal and Categorical Benefits with Classification Errors and Imperfect Enforcement," SIRE Discussion Papers 2015-13, Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE).
    10. Ronny Aboudi & Dominique Thon & Mingli Zheng, 2014. "Designing a Basic Income System with a Social Welfare Function," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 16(4), pages 546-568, August.

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