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Should Egalitarians Expropriate Philanthropists?

  • Dasgupta, Indraneel
  • Kanbur, Ravi

Wealthy individuals often voluntarily provide public goods that the poor also consume. Such philanthropy is commonly perceived as legitimizing one’s wealth. Governments routinely exempt the rich from taxation on grounds of their charitable expenditures. We examine the logic of this exemption. We show that, rather than reducing inequality, philanthropy may actually exacerbate absolute inequality, while leaving the change in relative inequality ambiguous. Additionally, philanthropic preferences may increase the effectiveness of policies to redistribute income, instead of weakening them. Consequently, from an egalitarian perspective, the general case for exempting the wealthy from expropriation, on grounds of their public goods contributions, appears dubious.

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File URL: http://purl.umn.edu/126999
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Paper provided by Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management in its series Working Papers with number 126999.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:ags:cudawp:126999
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  1. Buhong Zheng, 2007. "Unit-Consistent Decomposable Inequality Measures," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 74(293), pages 97-111, 02.
  2. Robert Breunig & Indraneel Dasgupta, 2005. "Do Intra-Household Effects Generate the Food Stamp Cash-Out Puzzle?," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 87(3), pages 552-568.
  3. Sen, Amartya, 1997. "On Economic Inequality," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198292975.
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  5. Dasgupta, Indraneel & Kanbur, Ravi, 2007. "Community and Class Antagonism," Working Papers 127009, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
  6. Bossert, Walter & Pfingsten, Andreas, 1990. "Intermediate inequality: concepts, indices, and welfare implications," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 117-134, April.
  7. Satya Chakravarty & Swami Tyagarupananda, 2009. "The subgroup decomposable intermediate indices of inequality," Spanish Economic Review, Springer, vol. 11(2), pages 83-97, June.
  8. Richard Cornes & Todd Sandler, 1998. "Pareto-Improving Redistribution and Pure Public Goods," Keele Department of Economics Discussion Papers (1995-2001) 98/04, Department of Economics, Keele University.
  9. Dasgupta, Indraneel & Kanbur, Ravi, 2003. "Bridging Communal Divides: Separation, Patronage, Integration," Working Papers 127235, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
  10. Andreoni, James, 1990. "Impure Altruism and Donations to Public Goods: A Theory of Warm-Glow Giving?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(401), pages 464-77, June.
  11. Kolm, Serge-Christophe, 1976. "Unequal inequalities. II," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 82-111, August.
  12. Dasgupta, Indraneel & Kanbur, Ravi, 2003. "Community And Anti-Poverty Targeting," Working Papers 127774, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
  13. Kolm, Serge-Christophe, 1976. "Unequal inequalities. I," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 416-442, June.
  14. Cornes, Richard & Sandler, Todd, 1994. "The comparative static properties of the impure public good model," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(3), pages 403-421, July.
  15. Itaya, Jun-ichi & de Meza, David & Myles, Gareth D., 1997. "In praise of inequality: public good provision and income distribution," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 57(3), pages 289-296, December.
  16. Cornes, Richard, 1993. "Dyke Maintenance and Other Stories: Some Neglected Types of Public Goods," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(1), pages 259-71, February.
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