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Equity and Fiscal Policy: The Income Distribution Effects of Taxation and Social Spending in Central America

  • Rodrigo Cubero
  • Ivanna Vladkova Hollar

How does fiscal policy fare in improving the underlying income distribution in Central America? We integrate the data from a number of existing tax and public expenditure studies for the countries in the region and find that the distributional effect of taxation is regressive but small. In contrast, the redistributive impact of social spending is large and progressive, leading to a progressive net redistributive effect in all countries of the region. We also show that raising tax revenues and devoting the proceeds to social spending would unambiguously improve the income of the poorest households.

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Paper provided by International Monetary Fund in its series IMF Working Papers with number 10/112.

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Length: 42
Date of creation: 01 May 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:10/112
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  1. James M. Poterba, 1989. "Lifetime Incidence and the Distributional Burden of Excise Taxes," NBER Working Papers 2833, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Sònia Muñoz & Stanley Sang-Wook Cho, 2003. "Social Impact of a Tax Reform: The Case of Ethiopia," IMF Working Papers 03/232, International Monetary Fund.
  3. Ke-young Chu & Hamid Reza Davoodi & Sanjeev Gupta, 2000. "Income Distribution and Tax and Government Social Spending Policies in Developing Countries," IMF Working Papers 00/62, International Monetary Fund.
  4. Engel, Eduardo M. R. A. & Galetovic, Alexander & Raddatz, Claudio E., 1999. "Taxes and income distribution in Chile: some unpleasant redistributive arithmetic," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 155-192, June.
  5. Glenn P. Jenkins & Hatice Jenkins & Chun-Yan Kuo, 2006. "Is the Value Added Tax Naturally Progressive?," Working Papers 1059, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  6. Barthold, Thomas A., 1993. "How Should We Measure Distribution?," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 46(3), pages 291-99, September.
  7. David Locke Newhouse & Irene Yackovlev & Robert Gillingham, 2008. "The Distributional Impact of Fiscal Policy in Honduras," IMF Working Papers 08/168, International Monetary Fund.
  8. repec:ttp:itpwps:0306 is not listed on IDEAS
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