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Do taxes matter for long-run growth?: Harberger's superneutrality conjecture

  • Enrique G. Mendoza
  • Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti
  • Patrick Asea

Harberger's supemeutrality conjecture contends that, although in theory the mix of direct and indirect taxes affects investment and growth, in practice growth effects of taxation are negligible. This paper provides evidence in support of this view by testing the predictions of endogenous growth models driven by human capital accumulation. Theoretical analysis highlights implications of different taxes for growth and investment in these models. The empirical work is based on cross-country regressions and numerical simulations, using a new methodology for estimating aggregate effective tax rates. Results show significant investment effects from income and consumption taxes that are consistent with small growth effects. The results are robust to the introduction of other growth determinants.

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Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series International Finance Discussion Papers with number 511.

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Date of creation: 1995
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgif:511
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  1. Hopenhayn, Hugo A & Muniagurria, Maria E, 1996. "Policy Variability and Economic Growth," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 63(4), pages 611-25, October.
  2. Mendoza, Enrique G & Tesar, Linda L, 1998. "The International Ramifications of Tax Reforms: Supply-Side Economics in a Global Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 226-45, March.
  3. Mulligan, C.B. & Sala-i-Martin, X., 1992. "Transitional Dynamics in Two-Sector Models of Endogenous Growth," Papers 651, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
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  6. Barro, Robert J. & Sahasakul, Chaipat, 1986. "Average Marginal Tax Rates from Social Security and the Individual Income Tax," Scholarly Articles 3451298, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  7. Larry E. Jones & Rodolfo E. Manuelli & Peter E. Rossi, 1993. "On the Optimal Taxation of Capital Income," NBER Working Papers 4525, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1990. "Supply-Side Economics: An Analytical Review," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 42(2), pages 293-316, April.
  9. Koester, Reinhard B & Kormendi, Roger C, 1989. "Taxation, Aggregate Activity and Economic Growth: Cross-Country Evidence on Some Supply-Side Hypotheses," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 27(3), pages 367-86, July.
  10. Sergio T. Rebelo, 1990. "Long Run Policy Analysis and Long Run Growth," NBER Working Papers 3325, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Mendoza, Enrique G. & Razin, Assaf & Tesar, Linda L., 1994. "Effective tax rates in macroeconomics: Cross-country estimates of tax rates on factor incomes and consumption," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 297-323, December.
  12. Pecorino, Paul, 1993. "Tax structure and growth in a model with human capital," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 251-271, September.
  13. Obstfeld, Maurice, 1992. "Risk-Taking, Global Diversification, and Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 688, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  14. Enrique G. Mendoza & Linda L. Tesar, 1995. "Supply-side economics in a global economy," International Finance Discussion Papers 507, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  15. Fischer, Stanley, 1993. "The role of macroeconomic factors in growth," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 485-512, December.
  16. Mankiw, N Gregory & Romer, David & Weil, David N, 1992. "A Contribution to the Empirics of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(2), pages 407-37, May.
  17. King, Robert G. & Plosser, Charles I. & Rebelo, Sergio T., 1988. "Production, growth and business cycles : I. The basic neoclassical model," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(2-3), pages 195-232.
  18. Robert J. Barro & Jong-Wha Lee, 1993. "Losers and Winners in Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 4341, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Eric M. Engen & Jonathan Skinner, 1992. "Fiscal Policy and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 4223, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Easterly, William & Rebelo, Sergio, 1993. "Marginal income tax rates and economic growth in developing countries," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 37(2-3), pages 409-417, April.
  21. Robert G. King & Sergio Rebelo, 1990. "Public Policy and Economic Growth: Developing Neoclassical Implications," NBER Working Papers 3338, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Michael B. Devereux & David R. F. Love, 1994. "The Effects of Factor Taxation in a Two-Sector Model of Endogenous Growth," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 27(3), pages 509-36, August.
  23. Jones, Larry E & Manuelli, Rodolfo E & Rossi, Peter E, 1993. "Optimal Taxation in Models of Endogenous Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 485-517, June.
  24. Plosser, Charles I., 1992. "The search for growth," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 57-86.
  25. Nouriel Roubini & Gian Maria Milesi-Ferrett, 1994. "Optimal Taxation of Human and Physical Capital in Endogenous Capital Models," NBER Working Papers 4882, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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