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Estate taxation with warm-glow altruism

  • Carlos Garriga
  • Fernando Sánchez-Losada

This article examines the properties of the optimal fiscal policy in an economy with warm-glow altruism (utility interdependence) and heterogeneous individuals. We propose a new efficiency concept, D-efficiency, that considers an implicit constraint in the act of giving: donors cannot bequeath to donees more than their existing resources. Considering this constraint, we show that the market equilibrium is not socially efficient. The efficient level of bequest transfers can be implemented by the market with estate and labor-income subsidies and a capital-income tax. In the absence of lump-sum taxation, the government faces a trade-off between minimizing distortions and eliminating external effects. The implied tax policy differs from Pigovian taxation since the government's ability to correct the external effects is limited. Finally, we show that the efficiency-equity trade-off does not affect the qualitative features of the optimal distortionary fiscal policy.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in its series Working Papers with number 2009-004.

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Date of creation: 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlwp:2009-004
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  1. William G. Gale & John Karl Scholz, 1991. "Intergenerational Transfers and the Accumulation of Wealth," UCLA Economics Working Papers 624, UCLA Department of Economics.
  2. Davies, James B. & Shorrocks, Anthony F., 2000. "The distribution of wealth," Handbook of Income Distribution, in: A.B. Atkinson & F. Bourguignon (ed.), Handbook of Income Distribution, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 11, pages 605-675 Elsevier.
  3. Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Lawrence H. Summers, 1986. "The Contribution of Intergenerational Transfers to Total Wealth: A Reply," NBER Working Papers 1827, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Carlos Garriga-Calvet, 2000. "Optimal Fiscal Policy in Overlapping Generations Models," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1772, Econometric Society.
  5. Philippe Michel & Pierre Pestieau, 2004. "Fiscal Policy in an Overlapping Generations Model with Bequest-as-Consumption," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 6(3), pages 397-407, 08.
  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. Erosa, Andres & Gervais, Martin, 2002. "Optimal Taxation in Life-Cycle Economies," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 105(2), pages 338-369, August.
  8. V. V. Chari & Patrick J. Kehoe, 1999. "Optimal Fiscal and Monetary Policy," NBER Working Papers 6891, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. CREMER, Helmuth & PESTIEAU, Pierre, . "Wealth transfer taxation: a survey of the theoretical literature," CORE Discussion Papers RP 1874, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  10. MICHEL, Philippe & PESTIEAU, Pierre, 1998. "Fiscal policy when individuals differ regarding to altruism and labor supply," CORE Discussion Papers 1998040, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  11. Mariacristina De Nardi, 2004. "Wealth Inequality and Intergenerational Links," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(3), pages 743-768.
  12. Laitner, John, 1993. "Intergenerational and interhousehold economic links," Handbook of Population and Family Economics, in: M. R. Rosenzweig & Stark, O. (ed.), Handbook of Population and Family Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 5, pages 189-238 Elsevier.
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