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Should Egalitarians Expropriate Philanthropists?

  • Dasgupta, Indraneel

    ()

    (Indian Statistical Institute)

  • Kanbur, Ravi

    ()

    (Cornell University)

Wealthy individuals often voluntarily provide public goods that the poor also consume. Such philanthropy is perceived as legitimizing one’s wealth. Governments routinely exempt the rich from taxation on grounds of their charitable expenditure. We examine the normative logic of this exemption. We show that, rather than reducing it, philanthropy may aggravate absolute inequality in welfare achievement, while leaving the change in relative inequality ambiguous. Additionally, philanthropic preferences may increase the effectiveness of policies to redistribute income, instead of weakening them. Consequently, the general normative case for exempting the wealthy from expropriation, on grounds of their public goods contributions, appears dubious.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 3317.

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Length: 25 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as "Does Philanthropy Reduce Inequality?" in: Journal of Economic Inequality, 2011, 9 (1), 1-21
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3317
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  1. Dasgupta, Indraneel & Kanbur, Ravi, 2007. "Community and class antagonism," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(9), pages 1816-1842, September.
  2. Bossert, Walter & Pfingsten, Andreas, 1990. "Intermediate inequality: concepts, indices, and welfare implications," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 117-134, April.
  3. Sen, Amartya, 1997. "On Economic Inequality," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198292975, March.
  4. Buhong Zheng, 2007. "Unit-Consistent Decomposable Inequality Measures," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 74(293), pages 97-111, 02.
  5. Richard Cornes & Todd Sandler, 1998. "Pareto-Improving Redistribution and Pure Public Goods," Keele Department of Economics Discussion Papers (1995-2001) 98/04, Department of Economics, Keele University.
  6. Indraneel Dasgupta & Ravi Kanbur, 2005. "Community and anti-poverty targeting," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 3(3), pages 281-302, December.
  7. Bergstrom, Theodore & Blume, Lawrence & Varian, Hal, 1986. "On the private provision of public goods," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 25-49, February.
  8. Itaya, Jun-ichi & de Meza, David & Myles, Gareth D., 1997. "In praise of inequality: public good provision and income distribution," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 57(3), pages 289-296, December.
  9. Robert Breunig & Indraneel Dasgupta, 2005. "Do Intra-Household Effects Generate the Food Stamp Cash-Out Puzzle?," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 87(3), pages 552-568.
  10. Cornes, Richard, 1993. "Dyke Maintenance and Other Stories: Some Neglected Types of Public Goods," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(1), pages 259-71, February.
  11. Dasgupta, Indraneel & Kanbur, Ravi, 2003. "Bridging Communal Divides: Separation, Patronage, Integration," Working Papers 127235, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
  12. Satya Chakravarty & Swami Tyagarupananda, 2009. "The subgroup decomposable intermediate indices of inequality," Spanish Economic Review, Springer, vol. 11(2), pages 83-97, June.
  13. Cornes, Richard & Sandler, Todd, 1994. "The comparative static properties of the impure public good model," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(3), pages 403-421, July.
  14. Kolm, Serge-Christophe, 1976. "Unequal inequalities. II," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 82-111, August.
  15. Andreoni, James, 1990. "Impure Altruism and Donations to Public Goods: A Theory of Warm-Glow Giving?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(401), pages 464-77, June.
  16. Kolm, Serge-Christophe, 1976. "Unequal inequalities. I," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 416-442, June.
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