IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Tax Policy and Income Inequality in the United States, 1979-2007


  • Olivier Bargain

    (GREQAM - Groupement de Recherche en Économie Quantitative d'Aix-Marseille - ECM - École Centrale de Marseille - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - AMU - Aix Marseille Université - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales)

  • Mathias Dolls

    (IZA - Institute for the Study of Labor, University of Cologne - University of Cologne)

  • Herwig Immervoll
  • Dirk Neumann

    (SNSB - Zoologische Staatssammlung Muenchen)

  • Andreas Peichl

    (IZA - Institute for the Study of Labor, University of Cologne - University of Cologne, CESifo - CESifo, ISER - University of Essex)

  • Nico Pestel
  • Sebastian Siegloch

    (IZA - Institute for the Study of Labor, University of Cologne - University of Cologne)


This paper assesses the effects of U.S. tax policy reforms on inequality over around three decades, from 1979 to 2007. It applies a new method for decomposing changes in government redistribution into (1) a direct policy effect resulting from policy changes and (2) the effects of changing market incomes. Over the period as a whole, the tax policy changes increased income inequality by pushing up the income share of high-income earners (the top 20%). (JEL H23, H31, H53, P16)

Suggested Citation

  • Olivier Bargain & Mathias Dolls & Herwig Immervoll & Dirk Neumann & Andreas Peichl & Nico Pestel & Sebastian Siegloch, 2015. "Tax Policy and Income Inequality in the United States, 1979-2007," Post-Print hal-01457384, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:hal-01457384
    DOI: 10.1111/ecin.12172
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server:

    Download full text from publisher

    To our knowledge, this item is not available for download. To find whether it is available, there are three options:
    1. Check below whether another version of this item is available online.
    2. Check on the provider's web page whether it is in fact available.
    3. Perform a search for a similarly titled item that would be available.

    Other versions of this item:


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Alari Paulus & Holly Sutherland & Iva Tasseva, 2020. "Indexing Out of Poverty? Fiscal Drag and Benefit Erosion in Cross‐National Perspective," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 66(2), pages 311-333, June.
    2. Henk-Wim de Boer & Egbert Jongen, 2017. "Optimal Income Support for Lone Parents in the Netherlands: Are We There Yet?," CPB Discussion Paper 361, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
    3. Thibault Darcillon, 2016. "What Determines Top Income Shares? The Role of the Interactions between Financial Integration and Tax Policy [Le rôle des interactions entre l'intégration financière et la politique fiscale dans la," Post-Print halshs-01316927, HAL.
    4. Matteo Picchio & Giacomo Valletta, 2018. "A welfare evaluation of the 1986 tax reform for married couples in the United States," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 25(3), pages 757-807, June.
    5. Giampaolo Arachi & Michele G Giuranno & Paola Profeta, 2018. "Introduction to the Special Issue ‘Inequality and Public Policies’, CESifo Economic Studies 2018," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 64(3), pages 339-344.
    6. Immervoll, Herwig & Richardson, Linda, 2011. "Redistribution Policy and Inequality Reduction in OECD Countries: What Has Changed in Two Decades?," IZA Discussion Papers 6030, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    7. Mathias Dolls & Karina Doorley & Alari Paulus & Hilmar Schneider & Eric Sommer, 2019. "Demographic change and the European income distribution," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 17(3), pages 337-357, September.
    8. Haufler, Andreas & Perroni, Carlo, 2020. "Incentives, Globalization, and Redistribution," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 1282, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    9. Estelle Dauchy & Francisco Navarro-Sanchez & Nathan Seegert, . "Taxation and Inequality: Active and Passive Channels," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics.
    10. François Bourguignon, 2018. "World Changes in Inequality: an Overview of Facts, Causes, Consequences, and Policies1," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 64(3), pages 345-370.
    11. Nikos Benos & Stelios Karagiannis, 2018. "Inequality And Growth In The United States: Why Physical And Human Capital Matter," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 56(1), pages 572-619, January.
    12. Henk-Wim de Boer & Egbert Jongen & Patrick Koot, 2018. "Optimal Taxation of Secondary Earners in the Netherlands: Has Equity Lost Ground?," CPB Discussion Paper 375, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
    13. Oliver Hümbelin & Rudolf Farys, 2017. "Redistribution through taxes and deductions. A decomposition analysis with administrative tax data from Switzerland," University of Bern Social Sciences Working Papers 26, University of Bern, Department of Social Sciences.
    14. Alari Paulus & Iva Valentinova Tasseva, 2020. "Europe Through the Crisis: Discretionary Policy Changes and Automatic Stabilizers," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 82(4), pages 864-888, August.
    15. Callan, Tim & Colgan, Brian & Logue, Caitríona & Savage, Michael & Walsh, John R., 2015. "Distributional Impact of Tax, Welfare and Public Service Pay Policies: Budget 2016 and Budgets 2009-2016," Quarterly Economic Commentary: Special Articles, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
    16. Lukas Reiss & Philip Schuster, 2020. "Explaining the evolution of the Austrian implicit tax rate on labor from 1976 to 2016," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 303-341, May.
    17. Oliver Hümbelin & Rudolf Farys, 2017. "Income redistribution through taxation – how deductions undermine the effect of taxes," Journal of Income Distribution, Ad libros publications inc., vol. 25(1), pages 1-35, March.

    More about this item


    Economie quantitative;

    JEL classification:

    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • H53 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Welfare Programs
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hal:journl:hal-01457384. 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: . General contact details of provider: .

    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.

    We have no bibliographic references for this item. You can help adding them by using 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 RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: CCSD (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.