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How Do Income and Bequest Taxes Affect Income Inequality? The Role of Parental Transfers

This paper studies how income and bequest taxes affect income inequality. We firstly explore this relationship empirically using a panel of 20 OECD countries from 1980 to 2008. The data shows that an increase of income taxation tends to strengthen income inequality, while the inequality effect of bequest taxation is ambiguous. In order to explain these findings, we develop an overlapping generation model with inter-generational transfers. Altruistic parents face thejoint decision of making educational investment and leaving financial bequests. A change in tax structure will affect both asset allocation decision and wealth transmission, which in turn governs the dynamics of human capital accumulation and determines the net tax effects on equilibrium income distribution. We show these tax effects on income inequality analytically, and examine aggregate effects with numerical experiments. We find that the predictions of our model are consistent with data patterns.

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File URL: http://www.iuj.ac.jp/workingpapers/index.cfm?File=EMS_2013_10.pdf
File Function: First version, 2013
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Paper provided by Research Institute, International University of Japan in its series Working Papers with number EMS_2013_10.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iuj:wpaper:ems_2013_10
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  1. Jaime Alonso-Carrera & Jordi Caballé & Xavier Raurich, 2010. "Fiscal policy, composition of intergenerational transfers, and income distribution," CAMA Working Papers 2010-09, Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
  2. Fulvio Castellacci & José Miguel Natera, 2011. "A new panel dataset for cross-country analyses of national systems, growth and development (CANA)," Working Papers del Instituto Complutense de Estudios Internacionales 05-11, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Instituto Complutense de Estudios Internacionales.
  3. Shinichi Nishiyama, 2002. "Bequests, Inter Vivos Transfers, and Wealth Distribution," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 5(4), pages 892-931, October.
  4. B. Douglas Bernheim & Robert J. Lemke & John Karl Scholz, 2001. "Do Estate and Gift Taxes Affect the Timing of Private Transfers?," NBER Working Papers 8333, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Singh, Aarti, 2010. "Human capital risk in life-cycle economies," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(6), pages 729-738, September.
  6. Kjetil Storesletten & Chris Telmer & Amir Yaron, 2007. "Asset Pricing with Idiosyncratic Risk and Overlapping Generations," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 10(4), pages 519-548, October.
  7. Becker, Gary S & Tomes, Nigel, 1979. "An Equilibrium Theory of the Distribution of Income and Intergenerational Mobility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1153-89, December.
  8. Trostel, Philip A, 1993. "The Effect of Taxation on Human Capital," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(2), pages 327-50, April.
  9. Sarte, Pierre-Daniel G., 1997. "Progressive taxation and income inequality in dynamic competitive equilibrium," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 145-171, October.
  10. Gary S. Becker & Nigel Tomes, . "Human Capital and the Rise and Fall of Families," University of Chicago - Population Research Center 84-10, Chicago - Population Research Center.
  11. Steven J. Haider & Kathleen M. McGarry, 2012. "Parental Investments in College and Later Cash Transfers," NBER Working Papers 18485, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Ignacio Palacios-Huerta, 2003. "An Empirical Analysis of the Risk Properties of Human Capital Returns," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 948-964, June.
  13. Loury, Glenn C, 1981. "Intergenerational Transfers and the Distribution of Earnings," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(4), pages 843-67, June.
  14. Volker Grossmann & Panu Poutvaara, 2009. "Pareto-improving bequest taxation," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 16(5), pages 647-669, October.
  15. Emmanuel Farhi & Ivan Werning, 2006. "Progressive Estate Taxation," NBER Working Papers 12600, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. R. C. Merton, 1970. "Optimum Consumption and Portfolio Rules in a Continuous-time Model," Working papers 58, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  17. Folster, Stefan & Henrekson, Magnus, 1999. "Growth and the public sector: a critique of the critics," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 337-358, June.
  18. De Gregorio, Jose & Lee, Jong-Wha, 2002. "Education and Income Inequality: New Evidence from Cross-Country Data," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 48(3), pages 395-416, September.
  19. Lutz Hendricks, 2001. "How Do Taxes Affect Human Capital? The Role of Intergenerational Mobility," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 4(3), pages 695-735, July.
  20. Kneller, Richard & Bleaney, Michael F. & Gemmell, Norman, 1999. "Fiscal policy and growth: evidence from OECD countries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(2), pages 171-190, November.
  21. Barro, Robert J, 2000. " Inequality and Growth in a Panel of Countries," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 5-32, March.
  22. Luis M. Viceira, 1999. "Optimal Portfolio Choice for Long-Horizon Investors with Nontradable Labor Income," NBER Working Papers 7409, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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