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Changes in income distribution and the role of tax-benefit policy during the Great Recession: an international perspective

Author

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  • Bargain, Olivier
  • Callan, Tim
  • Doorley, Karina
  • Keane, Claire

Abstract

This paper examines the impact on inequality and poverty of the economic crisis in four European countries, namely France, Germany, the UK and Ireland, and the contribution of tax and benefit policy changes. The period examined, 2008 to 2010, was one of great economic turmoil, yet it is unclear whether changes in inequality and poverty rates over this time period were mainly driven by changes in market income distributions or by tax-benefit policy reforms. We disentangle these effects by producing counterfactual ("no reform") scenarios using tax-benefit microsimulation and representative household surveys of each country. For the period under study, we find that the policy reaction has contributed to stabilizing or even decreasing inequality and relative poverty in the UK, France and especially in Ireland, a country where rising unemployment would have otherwise increased poverty. Market income inequality has nonetheless pushed up inequality and relative poverty in France. Relative poverty and, notably, child poverty, have increased in Germany due to policy responses combined with the increasing inequality of market income.

Suggested Citation

  • Bargain, Olivier & Callan, Tim & Doorley, Karina & Keane, Claire, 2013. "Changes in income distribution and the role of tax-benefit policy during the Great Recession: an international perspective," EUROMOD Working Papers EM21/13, EUROMOD at the Institute for Social and Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:ese:emodwp:em21-13
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Olivier Bargain & Tim Callan, 2010. "Analysing the effects of tax-benefit reforms on income distribution: a decomposition approach," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 8(1), pages 1-21, March.
    2. Callan,Tim & Keane,Claire & Savage,Michael & Walsh,John R., 2012. "Distributional Impact of Tax, Welfare and Public Sector Pay Policies: 2009-2012," Quarterly Economic Commentary: Special Articles, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), vol. 2012(4-Winter ).
    3. Karl BRENKE & Ulf RINNE & Klaus F. ZIMMERMANN, 2013. "Short-time work: The German answer to the Great Recession," International Labour Review, International Labour Organization, vol. 152(2), pages 287-305, June.
    4. Olivier Bargain & Herwig Immervoll & Andreas Peichl & Sebastian Siegloch, 2012. "Distributional consequences of labor-demand shocks: the 2008–2009 recession in Germany," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 19(1), pages 118-138, February.
    5. Peter Lambert & Thor Thoresen, 2009. "Base independence in the analysis of tax policy effects: with an application to Norway 1992–2004," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 16(2), pages 219-252, April.
    6. Holly Sutherland & Francesco Figari, 2013. "EUROMOD: the European Union tax-benefit microsimulation model," International Journal of Microsimulation, International Microsimulation Association, vol. 1(6), pages 4-26.
    7. Bruckmeier, Kerstin & Wiemers, Jürgen, 2011. "A new targeting - a new take-up? : non-take-up of social assistance in Germany after social policy reforms," IAB Discussion Paper 201110, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany].
    8. Doorley, Karina & Eichhorst, Werner & Kendzia, Michael J., 2013. "Report No. 52: The Social and Employment Situation in Ireland (Update February 2013)," IZA Research Reports 52, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    9. Cathal O’Donoghue & Jason Loughrey & Karyn Morrissey, 2013. "Using the EU-SILC to model the impact of the economic crisis on inequality," IZA Journal of European Labor Studies, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 2(1), pages 1-26, December.
    10. Tom Clark & Andrew Leicester, 2004. "Inequality and two decades of British tax and benefit reform," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 25(2), pages 129-158, June.
    11. Dardanoni, Valentino & Lambert, Peter J., 2002. "Progressivity comparisons," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(1), pages 99-122, October.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Robin Jessen, 2016. "Why Has Income Inequality in Germany Increased from 2002 to 2011? A Behavioral Microsimulation Decomposition," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 879, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    2. repec:euf:pfremu:pfr-2017-01 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Michał Brzeziński, 2015. "Inequality of opportunity in Europe before and after the Great Recession," Working Papers 2015-02, Faculty of Economic Sciences, University of Warsaw.
    4. Tim Callan & Brian Nolan & Claire Keane & Michael Savage & John Walsh, 2014. "Crisis, response and distributional impact: the case of Ireland," IZA Journal of European Labor Studies, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 3(1), pages 1-17, December.
    5. Manos Matsaganis & Chrysa Leventi, 2014. "Distributive Effects of the Crisis and Austerity in Seven EU Countries," ImPRovE Working Papers 14/04, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp.
    6. De Agostini, Paola & Paulus, Alari & Tasseva, Iva Valentinova, 2015. "The effect of tax-benefit changes on the income distribution in 2008-2014," EUROMOD Working Papers EM11/15, EUROMOD at the Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    7. John Hills & Alari Paulus & Holly Sutherland & Iva Tasseva, 2014. "A lost decade? Decomposing the effect of 2001-11 tax-benefit policy changes on the income distribution in EU countries," ImPRovE Working Papers 14/03, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • H53 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Welfare Programs
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty

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