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Redistribution and fiscal policy

  • Juan F. Rubio-Ramirez

This paper studies the optimal behavior of a democratic government in its use of fiscal policies to redistribute income. I present a stochastic dynamic general equilibrium model with heterogeneous agents to analyze (1) the differences between the effects on the optimal tax rate of permanent and nonpermanent perturbations and (2) the relationship between initial inequality and both steady-state levy and income distribution. In addition, the optimal fiscal policy for the transition is calculated. The analysis leads me to three main conclusions. First, there are no important differences between how taxes respond to a permanent or nonpermanent perturbation. Second, the initial inequality has a huge effect on both actual levy and actual income distribution. And finally, the Chari, Christiano, and Kehoe (1992) result, i.e., taxes on labor are roughly constant over the business cycle, holds only if the productivity ratio is constant. In addition, the model implies a positive correlation between inequality and tax rate, just as in the basic literature.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta in its series Working Paper with number 2002-32.

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Date of creation: 2002
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedawp:2002-32
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  1. Per Krusell & Jose-Victor Rios-Rull, 1997. "On the size of U.S. government: political economy in the neoclassical growth model," Staff Report 234, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  2. Barro, Robert J., 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Scholarly Articles 3451400, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  3. Persson, T. & Tabellini, G., 1993. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth," Papers 537, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
  4. V.V. Chari & Lawrence J. Christiano & Patrick J. Kehoe, 1991. "Optimal fiscal and monetary policy: some recent results," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, pages 519-546.
  5. Albert Marcet & Thomas J. Sargent & Juha Seppala, 1996. "Optimal taxation without state-contingent debt," Economics Working Papers 170, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Oct 2001.
  6. Robert E. Lucas Jr. & Nancy L. Stokey, 1982. "Optimal Fiscal and Monetary Policy in an Economy Without Capital," Discussion Papers 532, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  7. Perotti, Roberto, 1993. "Political Equilibrium, Income Distribution, and Growth," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(4), pages 755-76, October.
  8. Bernheim, B Douglas, 1991. "Optimal Fiscal and Monetary Policy: Some Recent Results," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 23(3), pages 540-42, August.
  9. Krusell, Per & Quadrini, Vincenzo & Rios-Rull, Jose-Victor, 1997. "Politico-economic equilibrium and economic growth," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 243-272, January.
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