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Inequality Aversion and Marginal Income Taxation

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  • Aronsson, Thomas

    () (Department of Economics, Umeå School of Business and Economics, Umeå University)

  • Johansson-Stenman, Olof

    () (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University)

Abstract

This paper deals with tax policy responses to inequality aversion by examining the first-best Pareto-efficient marginal tax structure when people are inequality averse. In doing so, we distinguish between four different and widely used models of inequality aversion. The results show that empirically and experimentally quantified degrees of inequality aversion have potentially very strong implications for Pareto-efficient marginal income taxation. It also turns out that the exact type of inequality aversion (self-centered vs. non-self-centered), and the measures of inequality used, matter a great deal. For example, based on simulation results mimicking the disposable income distribution in the US in 2013, the preferences suggested by Fehr and Schmidt (1999) imply monotonically increasing marginal income taxes, with large negative marginal tax rates for low-income individuals and large positive marginal tax rates for high-income individuals. In contrast, the often considered similar model by Bolton and Ockenfels (2000) implies close to zero marginal income tax rates for all.

Suggested Citation

  • Aronsson, Thomas & Johansson-Stenman, Olof, 2016. "Inequality Aversion and Marginal Income Taxation," Working Papers in Economics 673, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:gunwpe:0673
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2077/47877
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1999. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition, and Cooperation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 817-868.
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    13. Pommerehne, Werner W & Weck-Hannemann, Hannelore, 1996. "Tax Rates, Tax Administration and Income Tax Evasion in Switzerland," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 88(1-2), pages 161-170, July.
    14. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
    15. Thomas Aronsson & Olof Johansson‐Stenman, 2010. "Positional Concerns In An Olg Model: Optimal Labor And Capital Income Taxation," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 51(4), pages 1071-1095, November.
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    17. Corneo, Giacomo & Jeanne, Olivier, 1997. "Conspicuous consumption, snobbism and conformism," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 55-71, October.
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    20. Wendner, Ronald, 2010. "Conspicuous consumption and generation replacement in a model of perpetual youth," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(11-12), pages 1093-1107, December.
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    23. Aronsson, Thomas & Johansson-Stenman, Olof, 2008. "When the Joneses' consumption hurts: Optimal public good provision and nonlinear income taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(5-6), pages 986-997, June.
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    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Inequality Aversion and Marginal Income Taxation
      by maximorossi in NEP-LTV blog on 2016-10-19 19:26:31

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Pareto-efficient taxation; Inequality aversion; Inequity aversion; Self-centered inequality aversion; Non-self-centered inequality aversion; Fehr and Schmidt preferences; Bolton and Ockenfels preferences;

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D62 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Externalities
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies

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