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A Switch from Joint to Individual Taxation Is Welfare Improving

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  • André Decoster
  • Peter Haan

Abstract

In this paper we empirically derive the welfare effects of a shift from joint taxation with full income splitting to a revenue neutral system of individual taxation in Germany. For the empirical welfare evaluation we estimate the preference heterogeneity in the population and use normative welfare concepts proposed in Fleurbaey (2006) to solve the difficulties of comparison between, and aggregation of heterogeneous individuals and households. We show that, irrespective of the individual welfare measure we use, individual taxation would on average increase individual welfare. Moreover, as far as the aggregation is concerned, we show that any social planner, ranging from a utilitarian to a Rawlsian one, would come to the same conclusion: a policy change which replaces joint taxation with full splitting by individual taxation, would be welfare improving.

Suggested Citation

  • André Decoster & Peter Haan, 2011. "A Switch from Joint to Individual Taxation Is Welfare Improving," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1175, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwwpp:dp1175
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    File URL: http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.389950.de/dp1175.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Rolf Aaberge & Ugo Colombino & Steinar Strøm, 2004. "Do more equal slices shrink the cake? An empirical investigation of tax-transfer reform proposals in Italy," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 17(4), pages 767-785, December.
    2. André Decoster & Peter Haan, 2010. "Empirical Welfare Analysis in Random Utility Models of Labour Supply," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 340, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    3. Boskin, Michael J. & Sheshinski, Eytan, 1983. "Optimal tax treatment of the family: Married couples," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 281-297, April.
    4. Olivier Bargain & Marco Caliendo & Peter Haan & Kristian Orsini, 2010. "“Making work pay” in a rationed labor market," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 23(1), pages 323-351, January.
    5. LaLumia, Sara, 2008. "The effects of joint taxation of married couples on labor supply and non-wage income," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(7), pages 1698-1719, July.
    6. Alberto Alesina & Andrea Ichino & Loukas Karabarbounis, 2011. "Gender-Based Taxation and the Division of Family Chores," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 1-40, May.
    7. John Creedy & Guyonne Kalb, 2005. "Discrete Hours Labour Supply Modelling: Specification, Estimation and Simulation," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(5), pages 697-734, December.
    8. Aaberge, Rolf & Dagsvik, John K & Strom, Steinar, 1995. " Labor Supply Responses and Welfare Effects of Tax Reforms," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 97(4), pages 635-659, December.
    9. Viktor Steiner & Katharina Wrohlich, 2004. "Household Taxation, Income Splitting and Labor Supply Incentives – A Microsimulation Study for Germany," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 50(3), pages 541-568.
    10. Gert G. Wagner & Joachim R. Frick & Jürgen Schupp, 2007. "The German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP) – Scope, Evolution and Enhancements," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 127(1), pages 139-169.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hans Fehr & Manuel Kallweit & Fabian Kindermann, 2013. "Reforming Family Taxation in Germany - Labor Supply vs. Insurance Effects," CESifo Working Paper Series 4386, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Holger Bonin & Anita Fichtl & Helmut Rainer & C. Katharina Spieß & Holger Stichnoth & Katharina Wrohlich, 2013. "Lehren für die Familienpolitik – Zentrale Resultate der Gesamtevaluation familienbezogener Leistungen," ifo Schnelldienst, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 66(18), pages 22-30, October.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Taxation of couples; welfare measures; labour supply; preference heterogeneity;

    JEL classification:

    • C35 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Discrete Regression and Qualitative Choice Models; Discrete Regressors; Proportions
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation
    • 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
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply

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