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Pareto-improving structural reforms

Author

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  • Gilles Saint-Paul

    () (PJSE - Paris Jourdan Sciences Economiques - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement, PSE - Paris School of Economics - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement)

Abstract

Economists recommend to partly redistribute gains to losers from a structural reform, which in many cases may be required for making the reform politically viable. However, taxation is distortionary. Then, it is unclear that compensatory transfers can support a Pareto-improving reform. This paper provides sufficient conditions for this to occur, despite tax distortions. I consider an economy where workers have sector-specific skills and some sectors are regulated by a price floor. Transfers have to be financed by proportional taxation on firms revenues or, equivalently, labor income. Labor supply is elastic to net post-tax real wages, and hence reduced by taxation. In a setting where preferences are isoelastic, deregulation is implementable in a Pareto- improving way through compensatory lump-sum transfers, despite that these are financed by distortionary taxes. In a more general setting, there always exist Pareto-improving reforms but they may involved tightening regulation for some goods. I provide sufficient conditions for deregulation, i.e. a general reduction in price floors, to be Pareto-improving. They imply that demand cross-price elasticities should not be too large and that the reform should not be too unbalanced. Finally, I consider counter-examples where some people earn rents associated with informational or institutional frictions. In such situations, Pareto improvements are unlikely. If losers have veto power, the reform may only be supported by a minority of people. Broadening reform scope is especially useful to raise its political support when its impact is uneven across consumers.

Suggested Citation

  • Gilles Saint-Paul, 2018. "Pareto-improving structural reforms," PSE Working Papers halshs-01972036, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:psewpa:halshs-01972036
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-01972036
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    rent seeking; taxation; compensatory transfers; Pareto optimality; price controls; deregulation;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E64 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Incomes Policy; Price Policy
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • P11 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Planning, Coordination, and Reform

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