Quantifying the role of federal and state taxes in mitigating wage inequality
Wage inequality has risen dramatically in the United States since at least 1980. This paper quantifies the role that the tax policies of the federal and state governments have played in mitigating wage inequality. The analysis, which isolates the contribution of federal taxes and state taxes separately, employs two approaches. First, cross-sectional estimates compare before-tax and after-tax inequality across the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Second, inequality estimates across time are calculated to assess the evolution of the effects of tax policies. The results from the first approach indicate that the tax code reduces wage inequality substantially in all states. On average, taxes reverse approximately the last two decades of growth in wage inequality. Most of this compression of the income distribution is attributable to federal taxes. Nevertheless, there is substantial cross-state variation in the extent to which state tax policies compress the income distribution. Cross-state differences in gasoline taxes have a surprisingly large impact on income compression, as do sales tax exemptions for food and clothing. The results of the second approach indicate that the mitigating influence of tax policy on wage inequality has increased very modestly since the early 1980s. The increase is due to the widening of the pre-tax wage distribution interacting with a progressive tax structure. In contrast, legislated tax changes over this period decreased income compression somewhat.
|Date of creation:||2012|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: |
Web page: http://www.federalreserve.gov/
More information through EDIRC
|Order Information:||Web: http://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/feds/fedsorder.html|
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.:
- Berliant, M.C. & Strauss, R.P., 1991.
"State and Federal Tax Equity: Estimates Before and After the Tax Reform Act of 1986,"
RCER Working Papers
297, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
- Marcus C. Berliant & Robert P. Strauss, 1993. "State and federal tax equity: Estimates before and after the Tax Reform Act of 1986," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(1), pages 9-43.
- Marion, Justin & Muehlegger, Erich, 2011.
"Fuel tax incidence and supply conditions,"
Journal of Public Economics,
Elsevier, vol. 95(9), pages 1202-1212.
- Justin Marion & Erich Muehlegger, 2011. "Fuel Tax Incidence and Supply Conditions," NBER Working Papers 16863, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Marion, Justin & Muehlegger, Erich J., 2010. "Fuel Tax Incidence and Supply Conditions," Scholarly Articles 4448995, Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
- Marion, Justin & Muehlegger, Erich, 2010. "Fuel Tax Incidence and Supply Conditions," Working Paper Series rwp10-014, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
- Bruce D. Meyer & Wallace K. C. Mok & James X. Sullivan, 2009.
"The Under-Reporting of Transfers in Household Surveys: Its Nature and Consequences,"
NBER Working Papers
15181, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Bruce D. Meyer & Wallace K. C. Mok & James X. Sullivan, 2009. "The Under-Reporting of Transfers in Household Surveys: Its Nature and Consequences," Working Papers 0903, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
- Besley, Timothy J. & Rosen, Harvey S., 1999.
"Sales Taxes and Prices: An Empirical Analysis,"
National Tax Journal,
National Tax Association, vol. 52(n. 2), pages 157-78, June.
- Carola Frydman & Dirk Jenter, 2010.
CESifo Working Paper Series
3277, CESifo Group Munich.
- Emmanuel Saez & Joel B. Slemrod & Seth H. Giertz, 2009.
"The Elasticity of Taxable Income with Respect to Marginal Tax Rates: A Critical Review,"
NBER Working Papers
15012, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Emmanuel Saez & Joel Slemrod & Seth H. Giertz, 2012. "The Elasticity of Taxable Income with Respect to Marginal Tax Rates: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 50(1), pages 3-50, March.
- James Alm & Edward Sennoga & Mark Skidmore, 2009. "Perfect Competition, Urbanization, And Tax Incidence In The Retail Gasoline Market," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 47(1), pages 118-134, 01.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2012-05. 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: (Kris Vajs)
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.