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Fiscal Incidence, Fiscal Mobility and the Poor: a New Approach

Author

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  • Nora Lustig

    () (Tulane University)

  • Sean Higgins

    (Tulane University)

Abstract

Taxes and transfers can have significant impacts on poverty and inequality. All standard measures are by definition anonymous in the sense that we do not know the identity of winners and losers. That a given combination of taxes and transfers makes some of the poor poorer, however, may be important information to incorporate into a fiscal incidence analysis. The directional mobility literature provides a useful framework to identify which individuals are adversely/favorably impacted by a particular policy. This paper introduces a “fiscal mobility matrix” to identify winners and losers. We show that taxes and transfers can lower inequality and poverty (including the severity of poverty) but still make a subgroup of the poor worse off. We use Brazilian data to illustrate how indirect taxes make around 11 percent of the non-poor poor, 15 percent of the moderate poor extremely poor, and 4 percent of the extremely poor “ultra-poor” despite any cash transfers they receive, even when standard poverty and inequality indicators decline and overall taxes are progressive.

Suggested Citation

  • Nora Lustig & Sean Higgins, 2012. "Fiscal Incidence, Fiscal Mobility and the Poor: a New Approach," Working Papers 265, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
  • Handle: RePEc:inq:inqwps:ecineq2012-265
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    File URL: http://www.ecineq.org/milano/WP/ECINEQ2012-265.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Luis López-Calva & Eduardo Ortiz-Juarez, 2014. "A vulnerability approach to the definition of the middle class," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, pages 23-47.
    2. Luis López-Calva & Eduardo Ortiz-Juarez, 2014. "A vulnerability approach to the definition of the middle class," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, pages 23-47.
    3. François Bourguignon, 2011. "Non-anonymous growth incidence curves, income mobility and social welfare dominance," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, pages 605-627.
    4. François Bourguignon, 2011. "Status Quo In The Welfare Analysis Of Tax Reforms," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, pages 603-621.
    5. Nora Lustig & Carola Pessino & George Gray Molina & Wilson Jimenez & Veronica Paz & Ernesto Yanez & Claudiney Pereira & Sean Higgins & John Scott & Miguel Jaramillo, 2011. "Fiscal Policy and Income Redistribution in Latin America: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom," Working Papers 1124, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
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    Cited by:

    1. Nora Lustig & Florencia Amábile & Marisa Bucheli & George Gray Molina & Sean Higgins & Miguel Jaramillo & Wilson Jiménez Pozo & Veronica Paz Arauco & Claudiney Pereira & Carola Pessino & Máximo Rossi , 2014. "El impacto del sistema tributario y del gasto social sobre la desigualdad y la pobreza en Argentina, Bolivia, Brasil, México, Perú y Uruguay: Un panorama general," Commitment to Equity (CEQ) Working Paper Series 1313S, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
    2. Richard M. Bird & Eric M. Zolt, 2014. "Taxation and inequality in the Americas: Changing the fiscal contract?," Chapters,in: Taxation and Development: The Weakest Link?, chapter 7, pages 193-237 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    3. Nora Lustig & Carola Pessino & John Scott, 2013. "The Impact of Taxes and Social Spending on Inequality and Poverty in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay: An Overview," Working Papers 1313, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
    4. Christian Daude & Nora Lustig & Angel Melguizo & Jose Ramon Perea, 2017. "On the middle 70%. The impact of fiscal policy on the emerging middle class in Latin America using Commitment to Equity," Working Papers 1716, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
    5. Nora Lustig & Florencia Amábile & Marisa Bucheli & George Gray Molina & Sean Higgins & Miguel Jaramillo & Wilson Jiménez Pozo & Veronica Paz Arauco & Claudiney Pereira & Carola Pessino & Máximo Rossi , 2014. "El impacto del sistema tributario y del gasto social sobre la desigualdad y la pobreza en Argentina, Bolivia, Brasil, México, Perú y Uruguay: Un panorama general," Commitment to Equity (CEQ) Working Paper Series 1313S, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
    6. Branko Milanovic & Sean Higgins & Nora Lustig & Whitney Ruble & Timothy M. Smeeding, 2016. "Comparing the Incidence of Taxes and Social Spending in Brazil and the United States," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, pages 22-46.
    7. Maynor Cabrera & Nora Lustig & Hilcias E. Moran, 2014. "Fiscal policy, inequality and the ethnic divide in Guatemala," Working Papers 343, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
    8. Cabrera, Maynor & Lustig, Nora & Morán, Hilcías E., 2015. "Fiscal Policy, Inequality, and the Ethnic Divide in Guatemala," World Development, Elsevier, pages 263-279.
    9. Nora Lustig & Florencia Amábile & Marisa Bucheli & George Gray Molina & Sean Higgins & Miguel Jaramillo & Wilson Jiménez Pozo & Veronica Paz Arauco & Claudiney Pereira & Carola Pessino & Máximo Rossi , 2014. "El impacto del sistema tributario y del gasto social sobre la desigualdad y la pobreza en Argentina, Bolivia, Brasil, México, Perú y Uruguay: Un panorama general," Commitment to Equity (CEQ) Working Paper Series 13S, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
    10. Florencia Amábile & Marisa Bucheli & Máximo Rossi, 2014. "Inequality and Poverty in Uruguay by Race: the Impact of Fiscal Policies," Documentos de Trabajo (working papers) 0214, Department of Economics - dECON.
    11. Nora Lustig & Carola Pessino, 2013. "Social spending and income redistribution in Argentina during the 2000s: The rising noncontributory pensions," Commitment to Equity (CEQ) Working Paper Series 05, Tulane University, Department of Economics, revised Aug 2013.
    12. Pablo Sauma & Juan Diego Trejos, 2014. "Universidad de Costa Rica," Commitment to Equity (CEQ) Working Paper Series 18E, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
    13. World Bank, 2014. "Restructuring Corporate Income Tax and Value Added Tax in Vietnam : An Analysis of Current Changes and Agenda for the Future," World Bank Other Operational Studies 17832, The World Bank.
    14. Nora Lustig & Carola Pessino & John Scott, 2014. "The Impact of Taxes and Social Spending on Inequality and Poverty in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay," Public Finance Review, , vol. 42(3), pages 287-303, May.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    fiscal incidence; taxes and transfers; inequality; poverty; redistribution; mobility.;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • H22 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Incidence
    • H53 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Welfare Programs
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs

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