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Public Provision of Private Goods and Nondistortionary Marginal Tax Rates: Some Further Results


  • Blomquist, Sören

    () (Department of Economics)


The incidence and efficiency losses of taxes have usually been analyzed in isolation from public expenditures. This negligence of the expenditure side may imply a serious misperception of the effects of marginal tax rates. The reason is that part of the marginal tax may in fact be a payment for publicly provided goods and reflects a cost that the consumers should bear in order to face the proper incentives. Hence, part of the marginal tax may serve the same role as a market price in the sense that it conveys information about a real social cost of working more hours. We develop this idea formally by studying an optimal income tax model in combination with a type of public provision scheme not analyzed before; the provision level is individualized and positively associated with the individual’s labor supply. As examples we discuss child care, elderly care, primary education and health care. We show that there is a potential gain in efficiency where public provision of such services replaces market purchases. We also show that it is necessary for efficiency that, other things equal, marginal income tax rates are higher than in economies where the services are purchased in the market. This because the optimal tax should be designed so as to face the taxpayers with the real cost of providing the services. Hence, it might very well be that economies with higher marginal tax rates have less severe distortions than economies with lower marginal tax rates.

Suggested Citation

  • Blomquist, Sören, 2009. "Public Provision of Private Goods and Nondistortionary Marginal Tax Rates: Some Further Results," Working Paper Series 2009:13, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:uunewp:2009_013

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. M. Keith Chen, 2008. "Rationalization and Cognitive Dissonance: Do Choices Affect or Reflect Preferences?," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000002336, David K. Levine.
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    4. Stefano DellaVigna & Ethan Kaplan, 2007. "The Fox News Effect: Media Bias and Voting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1187-1234.
    5. George A. Akerlof, 1989. "The Economics Of Illusion," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 1(1), pages 1-15, March.
    6. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135-135.
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    8. Alan S. Gerber & Dean Karlan & Daniel Bergan, 2009. "Does the Media Matter? A Field Experiment Measuring the Effect of Newspapers on Voting Behavior and Political Opinions," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 35-52, April.
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    12. Caplan, Bryan, 2001. "Rational Ignorance versus Rational Irrationality," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(1), pages 3-26.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bas van Groezen & L. Meijdam, 2009. "At whose service? Subsidizing services and the skill premium," Working Papers 09-30, Utrecht School of Economics.
    2. repec:use:tkiwps:3030 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    Nonlinear income taxation; Marginal income tax rates; Public provision of private goods; In-kind transfers;

    JEL classification:

    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H42 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Publicly Provided Private Goods
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs

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