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Should Egalitarians Expropriate Philanthropists?

  • Indraneel Dasgupta


  • Ravi Kanbur


Wealthy individuals often voluntarily provide public goods that the poor also consume. Such philanthropy is commonly perceived as legitimizing one’s wealth. Governments routinely exempt the rich from taxation on grounds of their charitable expenditures. We examine the logic of this exemption. We show that, rather than reducing inequality, philanthropy may actually exacerbate absolute inequality, while leaving the change in relative inequality ambiguous. Additionally, philanthropic preferences may increase the effectiveness of policies to redistribute income, instead of weakening them. Consequently, from an egalitarian perspective, the general case for exempting the wealthy from expropriation, on grounds of their public goods contributions, appears dubious.

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Paper provided by Centre for Economic Development and Institutions(CEDI), Brunel University in its series CEDI Discussion Paper Series with number 06-11.

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Length: 23 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:edb:cedidp:06-11
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  14. Sen, Amartya, 1997. "On Economic Inequality," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198292975.
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