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Optimal nonlinear redistributive taxation and public good provision in an economy with Veblen effects

  • Micheletto, Luca


    (Uppsala Center for Fiscal Studies)

This paper deals with the consequences of the assumption of negatively interdependent preferences for the shape of the optimal nonlinear income tax and the efficient level of public good provision in a setting where the policy maker maximizes an inequality averse social welfare function and the agents´market ability is private information. The analysis points out that the terms added in the tax formulas due to the presence of Veblen e¤ects might justify a reduction in the optimal marginal tax rates faced by the different individuals. Also, the desir- ability of negative marginal tax rates cannot be ruled out. With respect to the issue of the optimal level of public good provision, we derive a modified Samuelson rule and highlight the fact that the Veblen-based part of the formula might require to distort downwards the efficient level of public good provision.

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Paper provided by Uppsala University, Department of Economics in its series Working Paper Series, Center for Fiscal Studies with number 2009:2.

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Length: 26 pages
Date of creation: 30 Mar 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:uufswp:2009_002
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Department of Economics, Uppsala University, P. O. Box 513, SE-751 20 Uppsala, Sweden

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  1. Oswald, Andrew J., 1983. "Altruism, jealousy and the theory of optimal non-linear taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 77-87, February.
  2. Sören Blomquist & Luca Micheletto, 2005. "Optimal Redistributive Taxation when Government’s and Agents’ Preferences Differ," CESifo Working Paper Series 1429, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. Fredrik Carlsson & Olof Johansson-Stenman & Peter Martinsson, 2007. "Do You Enjoy Having More than Others? Survey Evidence of Positional Goods," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 74(296), pages 586-598, November.
  4. Corneo, Giacomo, 2002. "The efficient side of progressive income taxation," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(7), pages 1359-1368, July.
  5. Ferrer-i-Carbonell, Ada, 2005. "Income and well-being: an empirical analysis of the comparison income effect," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(5-6), pages 997-1019, June.
  6. Samuel Bowles & Yongjin Park, 2003. "Emulation, Inequality, and Work Hours: Was Thorsten Veblen Right," Department of Economics University of Siena 409, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
  7. Erzo F.P. Luttmer, 2004. "Neighbors as Negatives: Relative Earnings and Well-Being," NBER Working Papers 10667, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Efe A. Ok & Levent KoÚkesen, 2000. "Negatively interdependent preferences," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 17(3), pages 533-558.
  9. Persson, Mats, 1995. " Why Are Taxes So High in Egalitarian Societies?," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 97(4), pages 569-80, December.
  10. J. A. Mirrlees, 1971. "An Exploration in the Theory of Optimum Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(2), pages 175-208.
  11. Robin Boadway & Michael Keen, 1991. "Public Goods, Self-Selection and Optimal Income Taxation," Working Papers 828, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  12. Alessandro Balestrino, . "Tax Avoidance, Endogenous Social Norms, and the Comparison Income Effect," EPRU Working Paper Series 05-15, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics, revised Dec 2005.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. Alpizar, Francisco & Carlsson, Fredrik & Johansson-Stenman, Olof, 2005. "How much do we care about absolute versus relative income and consumption?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 56(3), pages 405-421, March.
  16. Guesnerie Roger & Seade Jesus, 1981. "Nonlinear pricing in a finite economy," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Couverture Orange) 8118, CEPREMAP.
  17. H. Leibenstein, 1950. "Bandwagon, Snob, and Veblen Effects in the Theory of Consumers' Demand," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(2), pages 183-207.
  18. Layard, Richard, 1980. "Human Satisfactions and Public Policy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 90(363), pages 737-50, December.
  19. Ng, Yew-Kwang, 1987. "Relative-Income Effects and the Appropriate Level of Public Expenditure," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 39(2), pages 293-300, June.
  20. Michael J. Boskin & Eytan Sheshinski, 1978. "Optimal Redistributive Taxation When Individual Welfare Depends upon Relative Income," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 92(4), pages 589-601.
  21. Ireland, N. J., 2001. "Optimal income tax in the presence of status effects," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 193-212, August.
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