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Tax-Benefit Systems in Europe and the US: Between Equity and Efficiency

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  • Olivier Bargain
  • Mathias Dolls

    ()

  • Dirk Neumann
  • Andreas Peichl

    ()

  • Sebastian Siegloch

Abstract

Whether observed differences in redistributive policies across countries are the result of differences in social preferences or efficiency constraints is an important question that paves the debate about the optimality of welfare regimes. To shed new light on this question, we estimate labor supply elasticities on microdata and adopt an inverted optimal tax approach to characterize the redistributive preferences embodied in the welfare systems of 17 EU countries and the US. Implicit social welfare functions are broadly compatible with the fiction of an optimizing Paretian social planner. Some exceptions due to generous demogrant transfers are consistent with the ignorance of behavioral responses by some European governments and are partly corrected by recent policy developments. Heterogeneity in leisure-consumption preferences somewhat affect the international comparison in degrees of revealed inequality aversion, but differences in social preferences are significant only between broad groups of countries.

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  • Olivier Bargain & Mathias Dolls & Dirk Neumann & Andreas Peichl & Sebastian Siegloch, 2011. "Tax-Benefit Systems in Europe and the US: Between Equity and Efficiency," CESifo Working Paper Series 3534, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3534
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    Cited by:

    1. Dietrich, Stephan & Malerba, Daniele & Barrientos, Armando & Gassmann, Franziska, 2017. "Rates of return to antipoverty transfers in Uganda," MERIT Working Papers 040, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    2. Normann Lorenz & Dominik Sachs, 2012. "Optimal Participation Taxes and Efficient Transfer Phase-Out," Working Paper Series of the Department of Economics, University of Konstanz 2012-37, Department of Economics, University of Konstanz.
    3. Gordon, Roger H. & Cullen, Julie Berry, 2012. "Income redistribution in a Federal system of governments," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(11), pages 1100-1109.
    4. Benjamin B. Lockwood & Matthew Weinzierl, 2014. "Positive and Normative Judgments Implicit in U.S. Tax Policy, and the Costs of Unequal Growth and Recessions," Harvard Business School Working Papers 14-119, Harvard Business School, revised Oct 2014.
    5. Kamil Galuscak & Gabor Katay, 2014. "Labour Force Participation and Tax-Benefit Systems: A Cross-Country Comparative Perspective," Working Papers 2014/10, Czech National Bank, Research Department.
    6. Felix Bierbrauer & Pierre C. Boyer, 2017. "Politically Feasible Reforms of Non-Linear Tax Systems," CESifo Working Paper Series 6573, CESifo Group Munich.
    7. Olivier Bargain & Claire Keane, 2010. "Tax–Benefit‐revealed Redistributive Preferences Over Time: Ireland 1987–2005," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 24(s1), pages 141-167, December.
    8. Weinzierl, Matthew, 2014. "The promise of positive optimal taxation: normative diversity and a role for equal sacrifice," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 128-142.
    9. Elena SUMAN (TOMA) & Marius Frunza, 2011. "Considerations Regarding the Role of Taxes in Correcting the Economical and Social Inequalities on the Base of Globalization Process," EuroEconomica, Danubius University of Galati, issue 30, pages 15-27, November.
    10. Felix J. Bierbrauer & Pierre C. Boyer, 2016. "Efficiency, Welfare, and Political Competition," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 131(1), pages 461-518.
    11. Bönke, Timm & Eichfelder, Sebastian & Utz, Stephen, 2012. "Uneven treatment of family life? Horizontal equity in the U.S. tax and transfer system," Discussion Papers 2012/18, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
    12. Felix Bierbrauer & Aleh Tsyvinski & Nicolas D. Werquin, 2017. "Taxes and Turnout," NBER Working Papers 24123, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Holly Sutherland & Francesco Figari, 2013. "EUROMOD: the European Union tax-benefit microsimulation model," International Journal of Microsimulation, International Microsimulation Association, vol. 1(6), pages 4-26.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    social preferences; redistribution; optimal income taxation; labor supply;

    JEL classification:

    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • C63 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Computational Techniques

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