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Household Bargaining, Spouses' Consumption Patterns and the Design of Commodity Taxes

Listed author(s):
  • Cremer, Helmuth

    ()

    (Toulouse School of Economics)

  • Lozachmeur, Jean-Marie

    ()

    (Toulouse School of Economics)

  • Roeder, Kerstin

    ()

    (University of Augsburg)

We study the role and structure of commodity taxes when consumption and labor supplies are determined through a bargaining procedure between spouses, and where an optimal income tax is also available. We focus on the question whether there should be differences in tax treatment between "female" and "male" products. When weights (as well as wages) differ across couples, the heterogeneity is multidimensional and the Atkinson and Stiglitz theorem does not apply. In addition, when the social welfare function is individual-based, spouses' social weights may differ from their weights within the couples. This brings about Pigouvian considerations which in themselves may justify commodity taxes. We show that the expressions for the tax rates include Pigouvian and incentive terms. Their roles are most apparent in the case where some goods are consumed exclusively by one of the spouses. Supposing, for instance, that the female spouse has the lower bargaining weight, we find conditions under which the Pigouvian term calls for a subsidization of the "female good", and a taxation of the "male good". The incentive term depends on the distribution of bargaining weights across couples. For instance, for the exclusive consumption case, when the weight of the female spouse increases with wages, the female good tends to be consumed in larger proportion by more productive couples. Consequently, the incentive term makes it a candidate for taxation. In this case the Pigouvian term is mitigated.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 10557.

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Length: 29 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2017
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10557
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  1. Henrik Jacobsen Kleven & Claus Thustrup Kreiner & Emmanuel Saez, 2009. "The Optimal Income Taxation of Couples," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(2), pages 537-560, 03.
  2. Cremer, Helmuth & Pestieau, Pierre & Rochet, Jean-Charles, 2001. "Direct versus Indirect Taxation: The Design of the Tax Structure Revisted," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 42(3), pages 781-799, August.
  3. Hélène Couprie, 2007. "Time allocation within the Family: Welfare implications of life in a couple," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(516), pages 287-305, 01.
  4. Olivier Bargain & Olivier Donni, 2014. "Optimal Commodity Taxation and Redistribution within Households," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 81(321), pages 48-62, 01.
  5. Paul Blacklow & Ranjan Ray, 2003. "Intra-Household Resource Allocation, Consumer Preferences and Commodity Tax Reforms: Australian Evidence," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 79(247), pages 425-433, December.
  6. Helmuth Cremer & Jean-Marie Lozachmeur & Pierre Pestieau, 2012. "Income taxation of couples and the tax unit choice," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 25(2), pages 763-778, January.
  7. Boskin, Michael J. & Sheshinski, Eytan, 1983. "Optimal tax treatment of the family: Married couples," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 281-297, April.
  8. Cremer, Helmuth & Gahvari, Firouz, 2015. "Atkinson and Stiglitz theorem in the presence of a household production sector," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 126(C), pages 91-95.
  9. Craig Brett, 2007. "Optimal nonlinear taxes for families," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 14(3), pages 225-261, June.
  10. Cremer, Helmuth & Lozachmeur, Jean-Marie & Maldonado, Dario & Roeder, Kerstin, 2016. "Household bargaining and the design of couples’ income taxation," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 454-470.
  11. Christiansen, Vidar, 1984. "Which commodity taxes should supplement the income tax?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 195-220, July.
  12. Patricia F. Apps & Ray Rees, 1999. "Individual versus Joint Taxation in Models with Household Production," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(2), pages 393-403, April.
  13. Atkinson, A. B. & Stiglitz, J. E., 1976. "The design of tax structure: Direct versus indirect taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1-2), pages 55-75.
  14. Cremer, Helmuth & Gahvari, Firouz, 1997. "In-kind transfers, self-selection and optimal tax policy," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 97-114, January.
  15. Cremer, Helmuth & Gahvari, Firouz & Ladoux, Norbert, 1998. "Externalities and optimal taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(3), pages 343-364, December.
  16. A. B. Atkinson, 1977. "Optimal Taxation and the Direct versus Indirect Tax Controversy," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 10(4), pages 590-606, November.
  17. Immervoll, Herwig & Kleven, Henrik Jacobsen & Kreiner, Claus Thustrup & Verdelin, Nicolaj, 2011. "Optimal tax and transfer programs for couples with extensive labor supply responses," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(11), pages 1485-1500.
  18. Schroyen, Fred, 2003. "Redistributive taxation and the household: the case of individual filings," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(11), pages 2527-2547, October.
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