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Indirect taxation and the welfare effects of altruism on the optimal fiscal policy

  • Carlos Garriga
  • Fernando Sánchez-Losada

This paper analyzes the welfare effects of altruism on the optimal fiscal policy. The existence of positive bequests links present and future generations in the economy. We show that these altruistic links provide a new role for indirect taxation (consumption and estate taxes) with important welfare implications. We use three different altruistic approaches (warm-glow, dynastic, and family) to illustrate how the presence of bequests in the budget constraint of the donee gives the government the ability to use indirect taxation to mimic lump-sum taxation and to implement the first-best outcome in the long-run. This channel is not present in economies without altruism, such as the infinite-lived consumer economy or the overlapping generations economy, where long-run welfare is suboptimal and indirect taxation is irrelevant.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in its series Working Papers with number 2009-047.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlwp:2009-047
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  1. Emmanuel Farhi & Iván Werning, 2010. "Progressive Estate Taxation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 125(2), pages 635-673, May.
  2. Carlos Garriga-Calvet, 2000. "Optimal Fiscal Policy in Overlapping Generations Models," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1772, Econometric Society.
  3. Judd, Kenneth L., 1985. "Redistributive taxation in a simple perfect foresight model," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 59-83, October.
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  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.
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  8. Mariacristina Nardi, 2004. "Wealth Inequality and Intergenerational Links," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 71, pages 743-768, 07.
  9. Carlos Garriga & Fernando Sánchez-Losada, 2009. "Estate taxation with warm-glow altruism," Portuguese Economic Journal, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 99-118, August.
  10. Fernando M. Martin, 2004. "A Positive Theory of Government Debt," Macroeconomics 0408013, EconWPA, revised 12 Oct 2004.
  11. Wojciech Kopczuk, 2002. "The Trick is to Live: Is the Estate Tax Social Security for the Rich?," NBER Working Papers 9188, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. W. G. Gale & J. K. Scholz, . "Intergenerational transfers and the accumulation of wealth," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1019-93, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
  13. 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.
  14. Andrés Erosa & Martin Gervais, 1998. "Optimal Taxation in Life-Cycle Economies," UWO Department of Economics Working Papers 9812, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics.
  15. De Bonis, Valeria & Spataro, Luca, 2005. "Taxing Capital Income As Pigouvian Correction: The Role Of Discounting The Future," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 9(04), pages 469-477, September.
  16. Barro, Robert J., 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Scholarly Articles 3451399, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  17. Caballe, Jordi, 1998. "Growth Effects of Taxation under Altruism and Low Elasticity of Intertemporal Substitution," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(446), pages 92-104, January.
  18. Chamley, Christophe, 1986. "Optimal Taxation of Capital Income in General Equilibrium with Infinite Lives," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(3), pages 607-22, May.
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  20. Christopher Sleet & Sevin Yeltekin, 2006. "Credibility and endogenous societal discounting," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 9(3), pages 410-437, July.
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