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Intergenerational policy and the measurement of tax incidence


  • Conesa, Juan Carlos

    () (Stony Brook University)

  • Garriga, Carlos

    () (Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis)


We evaluate the ability of generational accounting to assess the potential welfare implications of policy reforms. In an intergenerational context policy reforms usually have redistributive, efficiency, and general equilibrium implications. Our analysis shows that when the policy reform implies changes in economic efficiency, generational accounts can be misleading not only about the magnitude of welfare changes, but also about the identity of who wins and who losses. In contrast the generational accounts correctly identify welfare changes when the policy reform has only a pure intergenerational redistribution component. We illustrate and quantify this issue in the context of widely considered policy reforms (substitution of consumption for labor taxation, and the increase of retirement age) and in a more general context of optimal policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Conesa, Juan Carlos & Garriga, Carlos, 2013. "Intergenerational policy and the measurement of tax incidence," Working Papers 2013-016, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, revised 16 Oct 2015.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlwp:2013-016

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Erosa, Andres & Gervais, Martin, 2002. "Optimal Taxation in Life-Cycle Economies," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 105(2), pages 338-369, August.
    2. Hansen, G D, 1993. "The Cyclical and Secular Behaviour of the Labour Input: Comparing Efficiency Units and Hours Worked," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 8(1), pages 71-80, Jan.-Marc.
    3. Alan J. Auerbach & Jagadeesh Gokhale & Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 1991. "Generational Accounts: A Meaningful Alternative to Deficit Accounting," NBER Chapters,in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 5, pages 55-110 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Juan Carlos Conesa & Sagiri Kitao & Dirk Krueger, 2009. "Taxing Capital? Not a Bad Idea after All!," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 25-48, March.
    5. David Altig, 2001. "Simulating Fundamental Tax Reform in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 574-595, June.
    6. 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.
    7. Juan C. Conesa & Carlos Garriga, 2008. "Optimal Fiscal Policy In The Design Of Social Security Reforms," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 49(1), pages 291-318, February.
    8. Conesa, Juan Carlos & Garriga, Carlos, 2013. "Intertemporal discounting and policy selection," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Mar, pages 165-180.
    9. repec:fip:fedgsq:y:2006:i:oct4 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Kent Smetters & Jan Walliser, 2002. "Distributional Effects in a General Equilibrium Analysis of Social Security," NBER Chapters,in: The Distributional Aspects of Social Security and Social Security Reform, pages 327-370 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Shinichi Nishiyama & Kent Smetters, 2007. "Does Social Security Privatization Produce Efficiency Gains?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(4), pages 1677-1719.
    12. Carlos Garriga-Calvet, 2000. "Optimal Fiscal Policy in Overlapping Generations Models," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1772, Econometric Society.
    13. Juan C. Conesa & Dirk Krueger, 1999. "Social Security Reform with Heterogeneous Agents," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 2(4), pages 757-795, October.
    14. Georges De Menil & Robert Fenge & Pierre Pestieau, 2008. "Pension Strategies in Europe and the United States," Post-Print halshs-00754865, HAL.
    15. Luisa Fuster & Ayşe İmrohoroğlu & Selahattin İmrohoroğlu, 2007. "Elimination of Social Security in a Dynastic Framework," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(1), pages 113-145.
    16. Ben S. Bernanke, 2006. "The coming demographic transition: will we treat future generations fairly?," Speech 234, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:red:issued:17-49 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Conesa, Juan Carlos & Garriga, Carlos, 2013. "Intertemporal discounting and policy selection," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Mar, pages 165-180.
    3. Christian vom Lehn & Eric Fisher & Aspen Gorry, . "Male Labor Supply and Generational Fiscal Policy," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics.

    More about this item


    Generational accounts; optimal reforms; overlapping generations;

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation

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