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Growth effects of progressive taxes

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  • Wenli Li
  • Pierre-Daniel G. Sarte

Abstract

Criticisms of endogenous growth models with flat rate taxes have highlighted two features that are not substantiated by the data. These models generally imply: (1) that economic growth must fall with the share of government expenditures in output across countries, and (2) that one-time shifts in marginal tax rates should instantaneously lead to similar shifts in output growth. In contrast, we show that allowing for heterogeneous households and progressive taxes into otherwise conventional linear growth models radically changes these predictions. In particular, economic growth does not have to fall, and may even increase, with the share of government expenditures in output across countries. Moreover, discrete permanent shifts in tax policy now lead to protracted transitions between balanced growth paths. Both of these findings hold whether or not government expenditures are thought to be productive, and better conform to available empirical evidence.

Suggested Citation

  • Wenli Li & Pierre-Daniel G. Sarte, 2002. "Growth effects of progressive taxes," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2002-3, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2002-3
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Charles T. Carlstrom & David Altig, 1999. "Marginal Tax Rates and Income Inequality in a Life-Cycle Model," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1197-1215, December.
    2. Aschauer, David Alan, 1989. "Is public expenditure productive?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, pages 177-200.
    3. Robert J. Barro & Xavier Sala-I-Martin, 1992. "Public Finance in Models of Economic Growth," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 59(4), pages 645-661.
    4. Barro, Robert J, 1990. "Government Spending in a Simple Model of Endogenous Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(5), pages 103-126, October.
    5. S. Rao Aiyagari, 1994. "Uninsured Idiosyncratic Risk and Aggregate Saving," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(3), pages 659-684.
    6. Robert A. Becker, 1980. "On the Long-Run Steady State in a Simple Dynamic Model of Equilibrium with Heterogeneous Households," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 95(2), pages 375-382.
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    Cited by:

    1. Michele Fabrizi & Elisabetta Ipino & Michel Magnan & Antonio Parbonetti, 2016. "Real Regulatory Capital Management and Dividend Payout: Evidence from Available-for-Sale Securities / Gestion du capital réglementaire et politique de dividende : Le cas des valeurs mobilières disponi," CIRANO Working Papers 2016s-57, CIRANO.

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    Keywords

    Taxation ; Economics;

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