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The distribution of wealth and redistributive policies

  • Jess Benhabib
  • Alberto Bisin

In this paper we study theoretically the dynamics of the distribution of wealth in an Overlapping Generation economy with bequest and various forms of redistributive taxation. We characterize the transitional dynamics of the wealth distribution and as well as the stationary distribution. We show that, in our economy, the stationary wealth distribution is a power law, a Pareto distribution in particular. Wealth is less concentrated (the Gini coefficient is lower) for both higher capital income taxes and estate taxes, but the marginal effect of capital income taxes is much stronger than the effect of estate taxes. Finally, we characterize optimal redistributive taxes with respect to an utilitarian social welfare measure. Social welfare is maximized short of minimal wealth inequality and with zero estate taxes.

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Paper provided by David K. Levine in its series Levine's Working Paper Archive with number 122247000000001162.

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Date of creation: 01 Mar 2006
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Handle: RePEc:cla:levarc:122247000000001162
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  1. Mariacristina Nardi, 2004. "Wealth Inequality and Intergenerational Links," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 71, pages 743-768, 07.
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  4. Marco Cagetti & Mariacristina De Nardi, 2003. "Entrepreneurship, frictions, and wealth," Staff Report 322, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  5. Fabio Clementi & Mauro Gallegati, 2005. "Power Law Tails in the Italian Personal Income Distribution," Microeconomics 0505005, EconWPA.
  6. Morrisson, Christian, 2000. "Historical perspectives on income distribution: The case of Europe," Handbook of Income Distribution, in: A.B. Atkinson & F. Bourguignon (ed.), Handbook of Income Distribution, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 4, pages 217-260 Elsevier.
  7. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2005. "Do Cognitive Test Scores Explain Higher U.S. Wage Inequality?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(1), pages 184-193, February.
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  11. James Heckman & Edward Vytlacil, 2001. "Identifying The Role Of Cognitive Ability In Explaining The Level Of And Change In The Return To Schooling," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(1), pages 1-12, February.
  12. Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2003. "Income Inequality In The United States, 1913-1998," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(1), pages 1-39, February.
  13. Blanchard, Olivier J, 1985. "Debt, Deficits, and Finite Horizons," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(2), pages 223-47, April.
  14. Chipman, John S., 1974. "The welfare ranking of Pareto distributions," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 275-282, November.
  15. Javier Díaz-Giménez & Vincenzo Quadrini & José-Víctor Ríos-Rull, 1997. "Dimensions of inequality: facts on the U.S. distributions of earnings, income, and wealth," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Spr, pages 3-21.
  16. Angus S. Deaton & Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas & Christina Paxson, 2002. "Social Security and Inequality over the Life Cycle," NBER Chapters, in: The Distributional Aspects of Social Security and Social Security Reform, pages 115-148 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Sheshinski, Eytan, 1972. "Relation between a social welfare function and the gini index of income inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 4(1), pages 98-100, February.
  18. Makoto Nirei & Wataru Souma, 2007. "A Two Factor Model Of Income Distribution Dynamics," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 53(3), pages 440-459, 09.
  19. Ofer Malcai & Ofer Biham & Peter Richmond & Sorin Solomon, 2002. "Theoretical Analysis and Simulations of the Generalized Lotka-Volterra Model," Papers cond-mat/0208514, arXiv.org.
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  21. Piketty, Thomas, 2001. "Income Inequality in France 1901-98," CEPR Discussion Papers 2876, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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