IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Optimal taxation, social contract and the four worlds of welfare capitalism

  • Spadaro, Amedeo

Drawing from the formal setting of the optimal tax theory (Mirrlees 1971), the paper identifies the level of Rawlsianism of some European social planners starting from the observation of real data and redistribution systems and uses it to build a metric that allows measuring the degree of (dis)similarity of the redistribution systems analyzed. It must be considered as a contribution to the comparative research on the structure and typology of the Welfare State. In particular we consider the optimal taxation model that combines both intensive and extensive margins of labor supply, as suggested by Saez (2002) in order to assess the degree of decommodification of seven European welfare systems. We recover the shape of the social welfare function implicit in tax-benefit systems by inverting the model on actual effective tax rates, as if existing systems were optimal according to some Mirrleesian social planner. Actual distributions of incomes before and after redistribution are obtained using a pan-European tax-benefit microsimulation model. Results are discussed in the light of standard classifications of welfare regimes in Europe. There appears to be a clear coincidence of high decommodification willingness and high Rawlsianism in the Scandinavian, socialdemocratically influenced welfare states (Denmark). There is an equally clear coincidence of low decommodification willingness and utilitarianism in the Anglo-Saxon liberal model (UK) and in the Southern European welfare states (Italy and Spain). Finally, the Continental European countries (Finland, Germany and France) group closely together in the middle of the scale, as corporatist and etatist.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by EUROMOD at the Institute for Social and Economic Research in its series EUROMOD Working Papers with number EM10/08.

in new window

Date of creation: 01 Oct 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: published
Handle: RePEc:ese:emodwp:em10-08
Contact details of provider: Postal: RAB Butler Building, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, ESSEX C04 3SQ
Phone: +44 (0)1206 872957
Fax: +44 (0)1206 873151
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Jean-Yves Duclos, 2000. "Gini Indices and the Redistribution of Income," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 7(2), pages 141-162, March.
  2. Aaberge, R. & Colombino, U. & Strom, S. & Wennemo, T., 1998. "Evaluating alternative tax reforms in Italy with a model of joint labor supply of married couples," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 415-433, December.
  3. Blundell, Richard & Macurdy, Thomas, 1999. "Labor supply: A review of alternative approaches," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 27, pages 1559-1695 Elsevier.
  4. Amiel, Yoram & Creedy, John & Hurn, Stan, 1999. " Measuring Attitudes towards Inequality," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 101(1), pages 83-96, March.
  5. Helmuth Cremer & Jean-Marie Lozachmeur & Pierre Pestieau, 2008. "Social Security And Retirement Decision: A Positive And Normative Approach ," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 22(2), pages 213-233, 04.
  6. José Labeaga & Xisco Oliver & Amedeo Spadaro, 2008. "Discrete choice models of labour supply, behavioural microsimulation and the Spanish tax reforms," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 6(3), pages 247-273, September.
  7. Immervoll, Herwig & Kleven, Henrik & Kreiner, Claus Thustrup & Saez, Emmanuel, 2004. "Welfare Reform in European Countries: A Micro-Simulation Analysis," CEPR Discussion Papers 4324, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. François Bourguignon & Amedeo Spadaro, 2012. "Tax–benefit revealed social preferences," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 10(1), pages 75-108, March.
  9. Borsch-Supan, Axel & Reil-Held, Anette, 2001. " How Much Is Transfer and How Much Is Insurance in a Pay-As-You-Go System? The German Case," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 103(3), pages 505-24, September.
  10. Angeletos, George-Marios & Alesina, Alberto, 2005. "Fairness and Redistribution," Scholarly Articles 4553009, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  11. Richard Blundell & Mike Brewer & Peter Haan & Andrew Shephard, 2009. "Optimal Income Taxation of Lone Mothers: An Empirical Comparison of the UK and Germany," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(535), pages F101-F121, 02.
  12. Heckman, James J, 1993. "What Has Been Learned about Labor Supply in the Past Twenty Years?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 116-21, May.
  13. Ahmad, Ehtisham & Stern, Nicholas, 1984. "The theory of reform and indian indirect taxes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 259-298, December.
  14. Immervoll, Herwig & Levy, Horacio & Lietz, Christine & Mantovani, D. & O'Donoghue, Cathal & Sutherland, Holly & Verbist, Gerlinde, 2005. "Household incomes and redistribution in the European Union: quantifying the equalising properties of taxes and benefits," EUROMOD Working Papers EM9/05, EUROMOD at the Institute for Social and Economic Research.
  15. Herwig Immervoll, 2003. "The Distribution Of Average And Marginal Effective Tax Rates In European Union Member States," Public Economics 0302005, EconWPA.
  16. André Masson, 2001. "Economie du débat intergénérationnel. Points de vue normatif, comptable, politique," DELTA Working Papers 2001-07, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  17. François Bourguignon & Pierre-André Chiappori, 1998. "Fiscalité et redistribution," Revue Française d'Économie, Programme National Persée, vol. 13(1), pages 3-64.
  18. Amedeo spadaro, 2003. "Micro-simulation and Normative Policy Evaluation: an Application to some EU Tax-Benefits System," DELTA Working Papers 2003-23, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  19. Georges Menahem, 2007. "The decommodified security ratio:A tool for assessing European social protection systems," Post-Print halshs-00198398, HAL.
  20. repec:fda:fdaddt:2005-14 is not listed on IDEAS
  21. Jay S. Coggins & Federico Perali, 2000. "Voting For Equity: Estimating Society'S Preferences Toward Inequality," CHILD Working Papers wp04_00, CHILD - Centre for Household, Income, Labour and Demographic economics - ITALY.
  22. Peter Haan & Viktor Steiner, 2004. "Distributional and Fiscal Effects of the German Tax Reform 2000: A Behavioral Microsimulation Analysis," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 419, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  23. Guy Laroque, 2005. "Income Maintenance and Labor Force Participation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(2), pages 341-376, 03.
  24. Emmanuel Saez, 2000. "Optimal Income Transfer Programs: Intensive Versus Extensive Labor Supply Responses," NBER Working Papers 7708, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. Lucy F. Ackert & Jorge Martinez-Vazquez & Mark Rider, 2007. "Social Preferences And Tax Policy Design: Some Experimental Evidence," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 45(3), pages 487-501, 07.
  26. Masson, A., 1999. "Economie des solidarités -I- Forces et faiblesses des solidarités comme anti-marché," DELTA Working Papers 1999-17, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  27. Xisco Oliver Rullán & Amedeo Spadaro, 2004. "Are Spanish governments really averse to inequality? a normative analysis using the 1999 Spanish tax reform," Investigaciones Economicas, Fundación SEPI, vol. 28(3), pages 551-566, September.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ese:emodwp:em10-08. 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: (Paul Groves)

The email address of this maintainer does not seem to be valid anymore. Please ask Paul Groves to update the entry or send us the correct address

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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 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.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.