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Income Inequality and Progressive Income Taxation in China and India, 1986-2015

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  • Piketty, Thomas
  • Qian, Nancy

Abstract

This paper evaluates the prospects for income tax reform in China during the coming decade (with a comparison to India), and argues that such reforms should rank high on the policy agenda in these two countries. Due to high average income growth and sharply rising top income shares during the 1990s and early 2000s, progressive income taxation is about to raise non-trivial tax revenues in China and India and to become an important political object. According to our projections, the income tax should raise at least 4% of Chinese GDP in 2010 (versus less than 1% in 2000 and 0,1% in 1990), in spite of the 20% nominal rise in the exemption threshold that took effect in 2004. The fact that progressive income taxation is becoming an important policy tool has important consequences for China’s ability to finance social spending and to keep under control the rise in income inequality associated to globalization and growth. Due to faster income growth and to a higher fraction of wage earners in the labor force, the prospects for income tax development look better in China than in India. This potential is however limited by the fact that Chinese top wage-earners are under-taxed relatively to top non-wage income earners.

Suggested Citation

  • Piketty, Thomas & Qian, Nancy, 2006. "Income Inequality and Progressive Income Taxation in China and India, 1986-2015," CEPR Discussion Papers 5703, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5703
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Thomas Piketty, 2003. "Income Inequality in France, 1901-1998," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(5), pages 1004-1042, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Russell Smyth & Vinod Mishra & Xiaolei Qian, 2010. "Knowing One’s Lot in Life Versus Climbing the Social Ladder: The Formation of Redistributive Preferences in Urban China," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 96(2), pages 275-293, April.
    2. Abhijit Banerjee & Xin Meng & Tommaso Porzio & Nancy Qian, 2014. "Aggregate Fertility and Household Savings: A General Equilibrium Analysis using Micro Data," Working Papers id:5799, eSocialSciences.
    3. Rao, Narasimha D., 2013. "Distributional impacts of climate change mitigation in Indian electricity: The influence of governance," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 1344-1356.
    4. Gadenne, Lucie, 2018. "Do Ration Shop Systems Increase Welfare? Theory and an Application to India," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 1149, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    5. Sabina Alkire and Suman Seth, 2012. "Identifying BPL Households: A Comparison of Methods," OPHI Working Papers ophiwp054, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.
    6. Molero-Simarro, Ricardo, 2017. "Inequality in China revisited. The effect of functional distribution of income on urban top incomes, the urban-rural gap and the Gini index, 1978–2015," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 101-117.
    7. Jiang, Zhujun & Lin, Boqiang, 2014. "The perverse fossil fuel subsidies in China—The scale and effects," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 411-419.
    8. Christian A. Belabed & Thomas Theobald & Till van Treeck, 2013. "Income Distribution and Current Account Imbalances," IMK Working Paper 126-2013, IMK at the Hans Boeckler Foundation, Macroeconomic Policy Institute.
    9. Michal Brzezinski, 2011. "Variance Estimation for Richness Measures," LWS Working papers 11, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    10. Cano Liliana, 2015. "Income Mobility in Ecuador: New Evidence from Individual Income Tax Returns," WIDER Working Paper Series 040, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    11. Anthony B. Atkinson & Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2011. "Top Incomes in the Long Run of History," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 49(1), pages 3-71, March.
    12. Julia Cage & Lucie Gadenne, 2014. "Tax Revenues, Development, and the Fiscal Cost of Trade Liberalization, 1792-2006," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/4icc4hr7684, Sciences Po.
    13. Maoyong Fan & Zhen Lei & Gordon Liu, 2016. "Discounting of Medical Savings Accounts," American Journal of Health Economics, MIT Press, vol. 2(2), pages 161-183, Spring.
    14. A B Atkinson & Andrew Leigh, 2010. "The Distribution of Top Incomes in Five Anglo-Saxon Countries over the Twentieth Century," CEPR Discussion Papers 640, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
    15. Bethencourt, Carlos & Kunze, Lars, 2016. "Temptation and the efficient taxation of education and labor," MPRA Paper 75141, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    16. repec:bla:metroe:v:68:y:2017:i:4:p:986-1000 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2012. "Optimal Labor Income Taxation," NBER Working Papers 18521, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Brzezinski, Michal, 2013. "Asymptotic and bootstrap inference for top income shares," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 120(1), pages 10-13.
    19. Chen, Yuyu & Naidu, Suresh & Yu, Tinghua & Yuchtman, Noam, 2015. "Intergenerational mobility and institutional change in 20th century China," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 44-73.
    20. Guangrong Ma & Jianwei Xu & Shi Li, 2015. "The Income Redistribution Effect Of China'S Personal Income Tax: What The Micro-Data Say," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 33(3), pages 488-498, July.
    21. Narasimha Rao, 2014. "International and intranational equity in sharing climate change mitigation burdens," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 129-146, May.
    22. van Treeck, Till. & Sturn, Simon., 2012. "Income inequality as a cause of the Great Recession? : A survey of current debates," ILO Working Papers 994709343402676, International Labour Organization.
    23. Julia Cage & Lucie Gadenne, 2014. "Tax Revenues, Development, and the Fiscal Cost of Trade Liberalization, 1792-2006," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/4icc4hr7684, Sciences Po.
    24. Sabina Alkire & Suman Seth, 2013. "Selecting a Targeting Method to Identify BPL Households in India," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 112(2), pages 417-446, June.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    income distribution; income taxation;

    JEL classification:

    • E25 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Aggregate Factor Income Distribution

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