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Inequality and Optimal Redistributive Tax and Transfer Policies


  • Howell H Zee


This paper explores the revenue-raising aspect of progressive taxation and derives, on the basis of a simple model, the optimal degree of tax progressivity where the tax revenue is used exclusively to finance (perfectly) targeted transfers to the poor. The paper shows that not only would it be optimal to finance the targeted transfers with progressive taxation, but that the optimal progressivity increases unambiguously with growing income inequality. This conclusion holds up under different assumptions about the efficiency cost of taxation and society’s aversion to inequality.

Suggested Citation

  • Howell H Zee, 1999. "Inequality and Optimal Redistributive Tax and Transfer Policies," IMF Working Papers 99/60, International Monetary Fund.
  • Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:99/60

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Mishra, Prachi & Montiel, Peter & Pedroni, Peter & Spilimbergo, Antonio, 2014. "Monetary policy and bank lending rates in low-income countries: Heterogeneous panel estimates," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 117-131.
    2. Daniel Halter & Manuel Oechslin & Josef Zweimüller, 2014. "Inequality and growth: the neglected time dimension," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 19(1), pages 81-104, March.
    3. Easterly, William, 2007. "Inequality does cause underdevelopment: Insights from a new instrument," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 755-776, November.
    4. Rodrik, Dani, 1999. "Where Did All the Growth Go? External Shocks, Social Conflict, and Growth Collapses," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 4(4), pages 385-412, December.
    5. repec:hrv:faseco:30747194 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Halter, David & Oechslin, Manuel, 2010. "Inequality and Growth: The Neglected Time Dimension," CEPR Discussion Papers 8033, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. Kao, Chihwa, 1999. "Spurious regression and residual-based tests for cointegration in panel data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 90(1), pages 1-44, May.
    8. Concha Verdugo Yepes & Peter L. Pedroni & Xingwei Hu, 2015. "Crime and the Economy in Mexican States; Heterogeneous Panel Estimates (1993-2012)," IMF Working Papers 15/121, International Monetary Fund.
    9. Sourav Batabyal & Abdur Chowdhury, 2015. "Curbing corruption, financial development and income inequality," Progress in Development Studies, , vol. 15(1), pages 49-72, January.
    10. Alexander Chudik & M. Hashem Pesaran, 2013. "Large Panel Data Models with Cross-Sectional Dependence: A Survey," CESifo Working Paper Series 4371, CESifo Group Munich.
    11. Samuel Bazzi & Michael A. Clemens, 2013. "Blunt Instruments: Avoiding Common Pitfalls in Identifying the Causes of Economic Growth," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(2), pages 152-186, April.
    12. Bebonchu Atems & Jason Jones, 2015. "Income inequality and economic growth: a panel VAR approach," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 48(4), pages 1541-1561, June.
    13. Levin, Andrew & Lin, Chien-Fu & James Chu, Chia-Shang, 2002. "Unit root tests in panel data: asymptotic and finite-sample properties," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 108(1), pages 1-24, May.
    14. repec:bla:socsci:v:97:y:2016:i:5:p:1267-1281 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. Kim, Junghun, 2005. "Tax reform issues in Korea," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(6), pages 973-992, December.
    2. Sterner, Cornelia, 2010. "Ein bedingungsloses Grundeinkommen in Form der negativen Einkommensteuer: Eine soziologische und finanzwissenschaftliche Analyse
      [An unconditional basic income in the form of the negative income ta
      ," MPRA Paper 39703, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Jun 2012.


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