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An Interpretation of the Gini Coefficient in a Stiglitz Two-Type Optimal Tax Problem

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  • Bo Sandemann Rasmussen

    () (Department of Economics and Business, Aarhus University, Denmark
    Department of Economics and Business, Aarhus University, Denmark)

Abstract

In a two-type Stiglitz (1982) model of optimal non-linear taxation it is shown that when the utility function relating to consumption is logaritmic the shadow price of the incentive constraint relating to the optimal tax problem exactly equals the Gini coefficient of the secondbest optimal income distribution of a utilitarian government. In this sense the optimal degree of income redistribution is determined by the severity of the incentive problem facing the policy-maker. Extensions of the benchmark model to allow for more general functional forms of the utility function and for more than two types of workers reveal that also in these cases the desired degree of income redistribution is positively correlated with the shadow prices of the incentive constraints.

Suggested Citation

  • Bo Sandemann Rasmussen, 2014. "An Interpretation of the Gini Coefficient in a Stiglitz Two-Type Optimal Tax Problem," Economics Working Papers 2014-15, Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University.
  • Handle: RePEc:aah:aarhec:2014-15
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    File URL: ftp://ftp.econ.au.dk/afn/wp/14/wp14_15.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Sören Blomquist & Luca Micheletto, 2008. "Age-related Optimal Income Taxation," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 110(1), pages 45-71, March.
    2. Arnott, Richard J & Hosios, Arthur J & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1988. "Implicit Contracts, Labor Mobility, and Unemployment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(5), pages 1046-1066, December.
    3. 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.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Optimal taxation; income distribution; incentive constraint; Gini coefficient;

    JEL classification:

    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies

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