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Optimal Fiscal Policy in Overlapping Generations Models

  • Carlos Garriga

    (Universitat de Barcelona)

This paper provides, from a theoretical and quantitative point of view, an explanation of why taxes on capital returns are high (around 35%) by analyzing the optimal fiscal policy in an economy with intergenerational redistribution. For this purpose, the government is modeled explicitly and can choose (and commit to) an optimal tax policy in order to maximize society's welfare. In an infinitely lived economy with heterogeneous agents, the long run optimal capital tax is zero. If heterogeneity is due to the existence of overlapping generations, this result in general is no longer true. I provide sufficient conditions for zero capital and labor taxes, and show that a general class of preferences, commonly used on the macro and public finance literature, violate these conditions. For a version of the model, calibrated to the US economy, the main results are: first, if the government is restricted to a set of instruments, the observed fiscal policy cannot be disregarded as sub optimal and capital taxes are positive and quantitatively relevant. Second, if the government can use age specific taxes for each generation, then the age profile capital tax pattern implies subsidizing asset returns of the younger generations and taxing at higher rates the asset returns of the older ones.

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Paper provided by Universitat de Barcelona. Espai de Recerca en Economia in its series Working Papers in Economics with number 66.

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Length: 25 pages
Date of creation: 2001
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bar:bedcje:200166
Contact details of provider: Postal: Espai de Recerca en Economia, Facultat de Ciències Econòmiques. Tinent Coronel Valenzuela, Num 1-11 08034 Barcelona. Spain.
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  1. V.V. Chari & Lawrence J. Christiano & Patrick J. Kehoe, 1993. "Optimal fiscal policy in a business cycle model," Staff Report 160, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  2. Guido Tabellini, 1989. "The Politics of Intergenerational Redistribution," NBER Working Papers 3058, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. V. V. Chari & Patrick J Kehoe, 1998. "Sustainable Plans," Levine's Working Paper Archive 600, David K. Levine.
  4. Robert E. Lucas Jr. & Nancy L. Stokey, 1982. "Optimal Fiscal and Monetary Policy in an Economy Without Capital," Discussion Papers 532, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  5. Atkinson, A B & Sandmo, A, 1980. "Welfare Implications of the Taxation of Savings," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 90(359), pages 529-49, September.
  6. Barro, Robert J. & Gordon, David B., 1983. "Rules, discretion and reputation in a model of monetary policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 101-121.
  7. Chari, V.V. & Kehoe, Patrick J., 1999. "Optimal fiscal and monetary policy," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 26, pages 1671-1745 Elsevier.
  8. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1990. "Supply-Side Economics: An Analytical Review," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 42(2), pages 293-316, April.
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