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Rethinking the Welfare State

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The U.S. spends non trivially on non-medical transfers for its working-age population in a wide range of programs that support low and middle-income households. How valuable are these programs for U.S. households? Are there simpler, welfare-improving ways to transfer resources that are supported by a majority? What are the macroeconomic effects of such alternatives? We answer these questions in an equilibrium, life-cycle model with single and married households who face idiosyncratic productivity risk, in the presence of costly children and potential skill losses of females associated with non-participation. Our findings show that a potential revenue-neutral elimination of the welfare state generates large welfare losses in the aggregate. Yet, most households support eliminating current transfers since losses are concentrated among a small group. We find that a Universal Basic Income program does not improve upon the current system. If instead per-person transfers are implemented alongside a proportional tax, a Negative Income Tax experiment, there are transfer levels and associated tax rates that improve upon the current system. Providing per-person transfers to all households is quite costly, and reducing tax distortions helps to provide for additional resources to expand redistribution.

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  • Nezih Guner & Remzi Kaygusuz & Gustavo Ventura, 2021. "Rethinking the Welfare State," Working Papers wp2021_2107, CEMFI.
  • Handle: RePEc:cmf:wpaper:wp2021_2107
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    1. Nezih Guner & Remzi Kaygusuz & Gustavo Ventura, 2014. "Income Taxation of U.S. Households: Facts and Parametric Estimates," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 17(4), pages 559-581, October.
    2. Nezih Guner & Remzi Kaygusuz & Gustavo Ventura, 2020. "Child-Related Transfers, Household Labour Supply, and Welfare," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 87(5), pages 2290-2321.
    3. Jonathan Heathcote & Fabrizio Perri & Giovanni L. Violante, 2010. "Unequal We Stand: An Empirical Analysis of Economic Inequality in the United States: 1967-2006," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 13(1), pages 15-51, January.
    4. Jonathan Heathcote & Kjetil Storesletten & Giovanni L. Violante, 2010. "The Macroeconomic Implications of Rising Wage Inequality in the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(4), pages 681-722, August.
    5. Lawrence F. Katz & Kevin M. Murphy, 1992. "Changes in Relative Wages, 1963–1987: Supply and Demand Factors," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 35-78.
    6. Mark Huggett & Gustavo Ventura & Amir Yaron, 2011. "Sources of Lifetime Inequality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 2923-2954, December.
    7. James Heckman & Lance Lochner & Christopher Taber, 1998. "Explaining Rising Wage Inequality: Explanations With A Dynamic General Equilibrium Model of Labor Earnings With Heterogeneous Agents," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(1), pages 1-58, January.
    8. Nezih Guner & Remzi Kaygusuz & Gustavo Ventura, 2014. "Income Taxation of U.S. Households: Facts and Parametric Estimates," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 17(4), pages 559-581, October.
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    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Rethinking the Welfare State
      by Christian Zimmermann in NEP-DGE blog on 2021-10-19 17:05:09

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    Cited by:

    1. Rauh, Christopher & Rodrigues dos Santos, Marcelo, 2022. "How do transfers and universal basic income impact the labor market and inequality?," CEPR Discussion Papers 16993, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Conesa, Juan Carlos & Li, Bo & Li, Qian, 2023. "A quantitative evaluation of universal basic income," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 223(C).
    3. Fabio Blasutto, 2020. "Cohabitation vs Marriage: Mating Strategies by Education in the USA," LIDAM Discussion Papers IRES 2020023, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    4. Guner, Nezih & Kulikova, Yuliya & Valladares-Esteban, Arnau, 2020. "Does the Added Worker Effect Matter?," IZA Discussion Papers 12923, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    5. Boar, Corina & Midrigan, Virgiliu, 2022. "Efficient redistribution," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 78-91.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Taxes and transfers; household labor supply; income risk; negative income tax.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy; Modern Monetary Theory
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household

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