IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Inflation and Welfare: Comment on Robert Lucas


  • Sinn, Hans-Werner


The paper argues that Lucas overestimates the Friedman-Bailey type of welfare cost of inflation and neglects other important welfare effects. With an alternative interpretation of the non-observability of low interest rates than the one Lucas gave and the introduction of taxes that reduce the opportunity cost of money holding, the welfare cost shrinks to one third of Lucas' estimate. The neglected welfare effects of inflation include an adverse Baumol-Tobin effect on growth and international capital movements, historical cost accounting for tax purposes, uncertainty about the price level and the relationship between inflation, relative prices and structural change.

Suggested Citation

  • Sinn, Hans-Werner, 1999. "Inflation and Welfare: Comment on Robert Lucas," CEPR Discussion Papers 2111, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:2111

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: CEPR Discussion Papers are free to download for our researchers, subscribers and members. If you fall into one of these categories but have trouble downloading our papers, please contact us at

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. David Bradford, 1997. "On the Uses of Benefit-Cost Reasoning in Choosing Policy Toward Global Climate Change," CESifo Working Paper Series 127, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Guttorm Schjelderup & Alfons J. Weichenrieder, 1999. "Trade, Multinationals, and Transfer Pricing Regulations," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 32(3), pages 817-844, May.
    3. Agnar Sandmo, 1997. "Redistribution and the Marginal Cost of Public Funds," CESifo Working Paper Series 142, CESifo Group Munich.
    4. Sinn, Hans-Werner & Feist, Holger, 1997. "Eurowinners and Eurolosers: The distribution of seigniorage wealth in EMU1," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 665-689, December.
    5. Francesca Cornelli & David D. Li, 1997. "Large Shareholders, Private Benefits of Control, and Optimal Schemes of Privatization," CESifo Working Paper Series 133, CESifo Group Munich.
    6. van Aarle, Bas & Huart, Florence, 1999. "Monetary and fiscal unification in the EU: a stylized analysis," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 49-66, January.
    7. Lindbeck , Assar, 1996. "Incentives in the Welfare State: Lessons for would-be welfare states," Working Paper Series 449, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    8. Torsten Persson & Gérard Roland & Guido Tabellini, 1997. "Separation of Powers and Political Accountability," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1163-1202.
    9. Choi, Jay Pil & Thum, Marcel, 1998. "Market structure and the timing of technology adoption with network externalities," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(2), pages 225-244, February.
    10. Cooter, Robert, 1998. "Expressive Law and Economics," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(2), pages 585-608, June.
    11. Jay Pil Choi, 2004. "Tying and innovation: A dynamic analysis of tying arrangements," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(492), pages 83-101, January.
    12. Jay Pil Choi & Marcel Thum, 2004. "The Economics of Repeated Extortion," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 35(2), pages 203-223, Summer.
    13. McKenna, C.J. & Livernois, J., 1996. "Truth or Consequences? Enforcing Pollution Standards," Working Papers 1996-7, University of Guelph, Department of Economics and Finance.
    14. Sinn, Hans-Werner, 1998. "The Pay-As You-Go Pension System as a Fertility Insurance and Enforcement Device," CEPR Discussion Papers 2023, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    15. Hoy, Michael & Polborn, Mattias, 2000. "The value of genetic information in the life insurance market," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(3), pages 235-252, November.
    16. Avinash Dixit & John Londregan, 1998. "Ideology, Tactics, and Efficiency in Redistributive Politics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(2), pages 497-529.
    17. Hans-Werner Sinn, 1997. "Deutschland im Steuerwettbewerb (Germany Faces Tax Competition)," CESifo Working Paper Series 132, CESifo Group Munich.
    18. Sinn Hans-Werner, 1997. "Deutschland im Steuerwettbewerb / Germany in Tax Competition," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 216(6), pages 672-692, December.
    19. Robert Cooter, 1998. "Expressive Law and Economics," CESifo Working Paper Series 161, CESifo Group Munich.
    20. Schob, Ronnie & Wildasin, David E., 2007. "Economic integration and labor market institutions: Worker mobility, earnings risk, and contract structure," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 141-164, March.
    21. David F. Bradford, 1996. "Fixing Capital Gains: Symmetry, Consistency and Correctness in the Taxation of Financial Instruments," NBER Working Papers 5754, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    22. James A. Robinson, 1999. "When is a State Predatory?," CESifo Working Paper Series 178, CESifo Group Munich.
    23. Hans-Werner Sinn, 1997. "The Value of Children and Immigrants in a Pay-As-You-Go Pension System: A Proposal for a Partial Transition to a Funded System," NBER Working Papers 6229, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    24. Calmfors, Lars, 1998. "Monetary Union and Precautionary Labour-Market Reform," Seminar Papers 659, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
    25. Torben Andersen, 1996. "Incomplete Capital Markets, Wage Formation and Stabilization Policy," CESifo Working Paper Series 123, CESifo Group Munich.
    26. Peter Stemp, 1997. "What Happens when Inflation Targets Change?," CESifo Working Paper Series 135, CESifo Group Munich.
    27. Gollier, Christian, 2002. "Discounting an uncertain future," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(2), pages 149-166, August.
    28. Bewley, Truman F., 1998. "Why not cut pay?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(3-5), pages 459-490, May.
    29. Helge Berger & Jakob de Haan, 1997. "A State within the State? An Event Study on the Bundesbank," CESifo Working Paper Series 131, CESifo Group Munich.
    30. Hartwick, John M & Long, Ngo Van, 1999. "Constant Consumption and the Economic Depreciation of Natural Capital: The Nonautonomous Case," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 40(1), pages 53-62, February.
    31. Jaleel Ahmad & Jing Yang, 1998. "Trade Liberalization in Eastern European Countries and the Prospects of their Integration into the World Trading System," CESifo Working Paper Series 164, CESifo Group Munich.
    32. Reiter, Michael & Weichenrieder, Alfons J., 1999. "Public Goods, Club Goods, and the Measurement of Crowding," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 69-79, July.
    33. David F. Bradford & Kyle D. Logue, 1997. "The Influence of Income Tax Rules on Insurance Reserves," CESifo Working Paper Series 128, CESifo Group Munich.
    34. Asheim, Geir B., 2000. "Green national accounting: why and how?," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 5(01), pages 25-48, February.
    35. Wolfgang Mayer, 1996. "Gains from Restricted Openings of Trade," CESifo Working Paper Series 115, CESifo Group Munich.
    36. Feist, Holger & Sinn, Hans-Werner, 1997. "Eurowinners and Eurolosers: The Distribution of Seigniorage Wealth in EMU," CEPR Discussion Papers 1747, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    37. David F. Bradford & Kyle Logue, 1999. "The Influence of Income Tax Rules on Insurance Reserves," NBER Chapters,in: The Financing of Catastrophe Risk, pages 275-306 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    38. Assaf Razin & Efraim Sadka, 1996. "Tax Burden and Migration: A Political Economy Perspective," NBER Working Papers 5850, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    39. Syed Ahsan & Peter Tsigaris, 1998. "The design of a consumption tax under capital risk," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 68(1), pages 53-78, February.
    40. Livernois, John & McKenna, C. J., 1999. "Truth or consequences: Enforcing pollution standards with self-reporting," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(3), pages 415-440, March.
    41. Patricia F. Apps & Ray Rees, 1997. "On the Taxation of Trade Within and Between Households," CESifo Working Paper Series 146, CESifo Group Munich.
    42. Sandmo, A., 1997. "Redistribution and the marginal Cost of Public Funds," Papers 8/97, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration-.
    43. Francesca Cornelli & David D. Li, 1997. "Large Shareholders, Private Benefits of Control, and Optimal Schemes of Privatization," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 28(4), pages 585-604, Winter.
    44. John Douglas Wilson & Xiwen Fan, 1997. "Tax Evasion and the Optimal Tax Treatment of Foreign-Source Income," CESifo Working Paper Series 125, CESifo Group Munich.
    45. John Livernois & C.J. McKenna, 1996. "Truth or Consequences? Enforcing Pollution Standards," CESifo Working Paper Series 120, CESifo Group Munich.
    46. Dixit, Avinash & Olson, Mancur, 2000. "Does voluntary participation undermine the Coase Theorem?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 309-335, June.
    47. David F. Bradford, 1997. "On the Uses of Benefit-Cost Reasoning in Choosing Policy Toward Global Climate Change," NBER Working Papers 5920, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    48. Sinn, Hans-Werner, 1998. "European Integration and the Future of the Welfare State," CEPR Discussion Papers 1871, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    49. Hans Haller, 1997. "Inefficient Household Decisions and Efficient Markets," CESifo Working Paper Series 138, CESifo Group Munich.
    50. Helmut Frisch & Franz X. Hof, 1996. "The Algebra of Government Debt," CESifo Working Paper Series 121, CESifo Group Munich.
    51. Sheilagh Ogilvie & Jeremy Edwards, 1998. "Women and the "Second Serfdom": Evidence from Bohemia," CESifo Working Paper Series 177, CESifo Group Munich.
    52. Hans-Werner Sinn & Alfons J. Weichenrieder, 1997. "Foreign direct investment, political resentment and the privatization process in eastern Europe," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 12(24), pages 177-210, April.
    53. Manfred J. Holler & Bengt-Arne Wickström, 1998. "The Scandal Matrix: The Use of Scandals in the Progress of Society," CESifo Working Paper Series 159, CESifo Group Munich.
    54. Evans, George W. & Honkapohja, Seppo, 1998. "Convergence of learning algorithms without a projection facility," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 59-86, August.
    55. Casey B. Mulligan & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 1995. "Adoption of financial technologies: Implications for money demand and monetary policy," Economics Working Papers 134, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
    56. Casper De Vries & Jon Danielsson, 1996. "Tail Index and Quantile Estimation with Very High Frequency Data," CESifo Working Paper Series 116, CESifo Group Munich.
    57. Lars Calmfors, 1998. "Monetary Union and Precautionary Labour-market Reform," CESifo Working Paper Series 174, CESifo Group Munich.
    58. Lensberg, Terje, 1999. "Investment behavior under Knightian uncertainty - An evolutionary approach," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 23(9-10), pages 1587-1604, September.
    59. M. Ayhan Kose & Raymond Riezman, 1998. "External Shocks and Economic Dynamics: The Case of African Countries," CESifo Working Paper Series 155, CESifo Group Munich.
    60. John G. Treble, 1998. "Point Schemes," CESifo Working Paper Series 169, CESifo Group Munich.
    61. Sinn, Hans-Werner, 1996. "International Implications of German Unification," CEPR Discussion Papers 1508, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    62. David Bradford, 1996. "Fixing Capital Gains, Symmetry, Consistency and Correctness in the Taxation of Financial Instruments," CESifo Working Paper Series 118, CESifo Group Munich.
    63. Lawrence H. Summers, 1982. "The Nonadjustment of Nominal Interest Rates: A Study of the Fisher Effect," NBER Working Papers 0836, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    64. Assar Lindbeck, 1996. "Incentives in the Welfare-State," CESifo Working Paper Series 111, CESifo Group Munich.
    65. Cooter, Robert, 1998. "Expressive Law and Economics," Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series qt3w34j60j, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.
    66. David Bradford, 1997. "Transition to and Tax Rate Flexibility in a Cash-Flow Type Tax," CESifo Working Paper Series 148, CESifo Group Munich.
    67. Robert E. Lucas, Jr., 2000. "Inflation and Welfare," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(2), pages 247-274, March.
    68. repec:hhs:iuiwop:449 is not listed on IDEAS
    69. M. Ayhan Kose & Raymond Riezman, 1998. "External Shocks and Economic Dynamics: The Case of African Countries," Journal of African Development, African Finance and Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 1-42.
    70. Timur Kuran, 1997. "Ethnic Norms and their Transformation through Reputational Cascades," CESifo Working Paper Series 150, CESifo Group Munich.
    71. Erkki Koskela & Ronnie Schöb, 1997. "Payroll Taxes vs. Wage Taxes: Non-Equivalence Results," CESifo Working Paper Series 143, CESifo Group Munich.
    72. Peter Lambert, 1998. "Horizontal Inequity: Some New Perspectives," CESifo Working Paper Series 162, CESifo Group Munich.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Shiratsuka, Shigenori, 2001. "Is There a Desirable Rate of Inflation? A Theoretical and Empirical Survey," Monetary and Economic Studies, Institute for Monetary and Economic Studies, Bank of Japan, vol. 19(2), pages 49-83, May.
    2. Tsyplakov Alexander, 2001. "Does Lower Inflation Imply Lower Price Uncertainty?," EERC Working Paper Series 2k/06e, EERC Research Network, Russia and CIS.

    More about this item


    cost of inflation; Inflation;

    JEL classification:

    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • F41 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Open Economy Macroeconomics


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:2111. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.