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Commodity Taxation and Social Welfare: The Generalised Ramsey Rule

  • David Coady
  • Jean Drèze
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    Commodity taxes have three distinct roles: (1) revenue collection, (2) interpersonal redistribution, and (3) resource allocation. The paper presents an integrated treatment of these three concerns in a second-best general equilibrium framework, which leads to the 'generalised Ramsey rule' for optimum taxation. We show how many standard results on optimum taxation and tax reform have a straightforward counterpart in this general framework. Using this framework, we also try to clarify the notion of 'deadweight loss' as well as the relation between alternative distributional assumptions and the structure of optimum taxes.

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    File URL: http://sticerd.lse.ac.uk/dps/de/dedps27.pdf
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    Paper provided by Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE in its series STICERD - Development Economics Papers - From 2008 this series has been superseded by Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers with number 27.

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    Date of creation: Sep 2000
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    Handle: RePEc:cep:stidep:27
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://sticerd.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/default.asp

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    1. Atkinson, A. B. & Stiglitz, J. E., 1976. "The design of tax structure: Direct versus indirect taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1-2), pages 55-75.
    2. Sandmo, Agnar, 1974. "A Note on the Structure of Optimal Taxation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(4), pages 701-06, September.
    3. Dixit, Avinash, 1985. "Tax policy in open economies," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 6, pages 313-374 Elsevier.
    4. Hoff, Karla, 1994. "The second theorem of the second best," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 223-242, June.
    5. Mirrlees, J. A., 1976. "Optimal tax theory : A synthesis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(4), pages 327-358, November.
    6. Guesnerie, Roger, 1979. "General statements on second best pareto optimality," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(2), pages 169-194, July.
    7. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521265638 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Deaton, Angus & Stern, Nicholas, 1986. "Optimally uniform commodity taxes, taste differences and lump-sum grants," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 263-266.
    9. P. A. Diamond & J. A. Mirrlees, 1975. "Private Constant Returns and Public Shadow Prices," Working papers 151, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
    10. Sen, Amartya K, 1972. "Control Areas and Accounting Prices: An Approach to Economic Evaluation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 82(325), pages 486-501, Supplemen.
    11. Dreze, Jean & Stern, Nicholas, 1987. "The theory of cost-benefit analysis," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 14, pages 909-989 Elsevier.
    12. Peter A. Diamond & J. A. Mirrlees, 1968. "Optimal Taxation and Public Production," Working papers 22, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
    13. Dixit, Avinash, 1975. "Welfare effects of tax and price changes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 103-123, February.
    14. Auerbach, Alan J., 1985. "The theory of excess burden and optimal taxation," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 2, pages 61-127 Elsevier.
    15. Kay, J. A., 1980. "The deadweight loss from a tax system," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 111-119, February.
    16. Dreze, Jean & Stern, Nicholas, 1990. "Policy reform, shadow prices, and market prices," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 1-45, June.
    17. Sandmo, Agnar, 1976. "Optimal taxation : An introduction to the literature," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1-2), pages 37-54.
    18. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521397421 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. David Coady, 1997. "Agricultural Pricing Policies in Developing Countries: An Application to Pakistan," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 4(1), pages 39-57, January.
    20. Atkinson, Anthony B & Stern, N H, 1974. "Pigou, Taxation and Public Goods," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(1), pages 119-28, January.
    21. Dixit, Avinash K, 1970. "On the Optimum Structure of Commodity Taxes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(3), pages 295-301, June.
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