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Optimal Redistributive Taxation when Government’s and Agents’ Preferences Differ


  • Sören Blomquist
  • Luca Micheletto


Paternalism, merit goods and specific egalitarianism are concepts we sometimes meet in the literature. The thing in common is that the policy maker does not fully respect the consumer sovereignty principle and designs policies according to some other criterion than individuals’ preferences. Using the self-selection approach to tax problems developed by Stiglitz (1982) and Stern (1982), the paper provides a characterization of the properties of an optimal redistributive mixed tax scheme in the general case when the government evaluates individuals’ well-being using a different utility function than the one maximized by private agents.

Suggested Citation

  • Sören Blomquist & Luca Micheletto, 2005. "Optimal Redistributive Taxation when Government’s and Agents’ Preferences Differ," CESifo Working Paper Series 1429, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_1429

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    References listed on IDEAS

    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. Kanbur, Ravi & Keen, Michael & Tuomala, Matti, 1994. "Optimal non-linear income taxation for the alleviation of income-poverty," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 38(8), pages 1613-1632, October.
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    6. Racionero, Maria del Mar, 2001. "Optimal Tax Mix with Merit Goods," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 53(4), pages 628-641, October.
    7. Richard H. Thaler & Cass R. Sunstein, 2003. "Libertarian Paternalism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 175-179, May.
    8. Schroyen, Fred, 2005. "An alternative way to model merit good arguments," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(5-6), pages 957-966, June.
    9. Nava, Mario & Schroyen, Fred & Marchand, Maurice, 1996. "Optimal fiscal and public expenditure policy in a two-class economy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 119-137, July.
    10. Besley, Timothy, 1988. "A simple model for merit good arguments," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 371-383, April.
    11. 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.
    12. Robert A. Pollak, 1969. "Conditional Demand Functions and Consumption Theory," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 83(1), pages 60-78.
    13. Sandmo, Agnar, 1983. "Ex Post Welfare Economics and the Theory of Merit Goods," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 50(197), pages 19-33, February.
    14. Stern, Nicholas, 1982. "Optimum taxation with errors in administration," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 181-211, March.
    15. Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1982. "Self-selection and Pareto efficient taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 213-240, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Per Engstrom & Bertil Holmlund, 2009. "Tax evasion and self-employment in a high-tax country: evidence from Sweden," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 41(19), pages 2419-2430.
    2. Jie Chen, 2006. "The Dynamics of Housing Allowance Claims in Sweden: A Discrete Time-Hazard Analysis," European Journal of Housing Policy, Taylor and Francis Journals, vol. 6(1), pages 1-29, April.
    3. Mutascu, Mihai & Tiwari, Aviral & Estrada, Fernando, 2011. "Taxation and political stability," MPRA Paper 36855, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Feb 2012.
    4. Eckerstorfer, Paul & Wendner, Ronald, 2013. "Asymmetric and non-atmospheric consumption externalities, and efficient consumption taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 42-56.
    5. Johansson, Fredrik & Klevmarken, Anders, 2006. "Explaining the size and nature of response in a survey on health status and economic standard," Working Paper Series 2006:2, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
    6. Martin Gonzalez Eiras & Dirk Niepelt, 2004. "Sustaining Social Security," Working Papers 72, Universidad de San Andres, Departamento de Economia, revised Jun 2004.
    7. Blomquist, Soren & Micheletto, Luca, 2006. "Optimal redistributive taxation when government's and agents' preferences differ," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(6-7), pages 1215-1233, August.
    8. Alessandro Balestrino, 2012. "Taxes, Status Goods, and Piracy," CESifo Working Paper Series 3704, CESifo Group Munich.
    9. Estrada, Fernando & Mutascu, Mihai & Tiwari, Aviral, 2011. "Estabilidad política y tributación
      [Taxation and political stability]
      ," MPRA Paper 32414, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Fred Schroyen, 2010. "Operational expressions for the marginal cost of indirect taxation when merit arguments matter," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 17(1), pages 43-51, February.
    11. Berg, Lennart & Berger, Tommy, 2005. "The Q theory and the Swedish housing market –an empirical test," Working Paper Series 2005:19, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
    12. Jukka Pirttilä & Sanna Tenhunen, 2008. "Pawns and queens revisited: public provision of private goods when individuals make mistakes," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 15(5), pages 599-619, October.

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    optimal taxation; behavioral economics; paternalism; merit goods; non-welfarism;

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