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Relative Consumption, Optimal Taxation and Public Provision of Private Goods

  • Koenig, Tobias
  • Lausen, Tobias
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    This paper shows that public provision of private goods may be justified on pure efficiency grounds in an environment where individuals have relative consumption concerns. By providing private goods, governments directly intervene in the consumption structure, thereby having an instrument to correct for the excessive consumption of positional goods. We identify sufficient conditions where public provision of private goods is always part of the optimal policy mix, even when consumption taxes are available. In fact, with public provision of private goods, there are cases where the first-best allocation can be achieved, and (linear) consumption taxes can be redundant.

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    File URL: http://diskussionspapiere.wiwi.uni-hannover.de/pdf_bib/dp-510.pdf
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    Paper provided by Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät in its series Hannover Economic Papers (HEP) with number dp-510.

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    Length: 28 pages
    Date of creation: Feb 2013
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:han:dpaper:dp-510
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    1. Ireland, Norman J., 1994. "On limiting the market for status signals," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 91-110, January.
    2. Konrad, Kai A. & Lommerud, Kjell Erik, 1993. "Relative standing comparisons, risk taking, and safety regulations," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(3), pages 345-358, July.
    3. Olof Johansson-Stenman & Fredrik Carlsson & Dinky Daruvala, 2002. "Measuring Future Grandparents" Preferences for Equality and Relative Standing," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(479), pages 362-383, April.
    4. Ng, Yew-Kwang, 1987. "Diamonds Are a Government's Best Friend: Burden-Free Taxes on Goods Valued for Their Values," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(1), pages 186-91, March.
    5. Ed Hopkins & Tatiana Kornienko, 2004. "Running to Keep in the Same Place: Consumer Choice as a Game of Status," ESE Discussion Papers 92, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
    6. Sara J. Solnick & David Hemenway, 2005. "Are Positional Concerns Stronger in Some Domains than in Others?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 147-151, May.
    7. Micheletto, Luca, 2008. "Redistribution and optimal mixed taxation in the presence of consumption externalities," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(10-11), pages 2262-2274, October.
    8. Harald Uhlig & Lars Ljungqvist, 2000. "Tax Policy and Aggregate Demand Management under Catching Up with the Joneses," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 356-366, June.
    9. Frank, Robert H, 1985. "The Demand for Unobservable and Other Nonpositional Goods," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 101-16, March.
    10. Wendner, Ronald & Goulder, Lawrence H., 2008. "Status Effects, Public Goods Provision, and the Excess Burden," MPRA Paper 8260, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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