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Relational Contracts, Taxation and the Household

  • Apps, Patricia


    (University of Sydney)

  • Rees, Ray


    (University of Munich)

This paper applies the theory of relational contracts to make precise the idea that because households are engaged in a repeated non-cooperative game, Pareto efficient outcomes can be supported by self interest, given the specific pattern of specialisation and exchange which exists in the household. The household's choice of a particular solution from the resulting feasible set is found by the maximisation of a household welfare function, a generalisation of a suggestion originally made by Samuelson. This nests as special cases the objective functions used in currently popular models of households engaged in one-shot cooperative games. We take a specific example of such a household welfare function, characterise the determinants of the household utility distribution, and then apply the model to examine the effects of a move from joint to individual taxation. We show that on standard stylised facts, secondary earners are always better off absolutely, and define the conditions under which they will also be so relatively. This confirms the conclusions from models which concern themselves only with the across-household welfare distribution.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 4189.

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Length: 15 pages
Date of creation: May 2009
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: CESifo Economic Studies, 2011, 57 (2), 245-258
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4189
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  1. M. Browning & P. A. Chiappori, 1998. "Efficient Intra-Household Allocations: A General Characterization and Empirical Tests," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(6), pages 1241-1278, November.
  2. Abreu, Dilip, 1986. "Extremal equilibria of oligopolistic supergames," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 191-225, June.
  3. Apps, Patricia & Rees, Ray, 2007. "The Taxation of Couples," IZA Discussion Papers 2910, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. W. Bentley MacLeod & James M. Malcomson, 1986. "Implicit Contracts, Incentive Compatibility, and Involuntary Unemployment," Working Papers 585, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  5. Lundberg, S. & Pollak, R.A., 1991. "Separate Spheres Bargaining and the Marriage Market," Discussion Papers in Economics at the University of Washington 91-08, Department of Economics at the University of Washington.
  6. W. Bentley MacLeod & James Malcomson, 1997. "Motivation and Markets," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 339., Boston College Department of Economics.
  7. Zhiqi Chen & Frances Woolley, 1999. "A Cournot-Nash Model of Family Decision Making," Carleton Economic Papers 99-13, Carleton University, Department of Economics, revised Oct 2001.
  8. Pollak, Robert A, 1985. "A Transaction Cost Approach to Families and Households," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 23(2), pages 581-608, June.
  9. Patricia Apps & Ngo Long & Ray Rees, 2014. "Optimal Piecewise Linear Income Taxation," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 16(4), pages 523-545, 08.
  10. Rees, Ray, 1988. "Taxation and the Household," Munich Reprints in Economics 3411, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  11. Alberto Alesina & Andrea Ichino & Loukas Karabarbounis, 2011. "Gender-Based Taxation and the Division of Family Chores," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 1-40, May.
  12. Apps, Patricia & Rees, Ray, 1999. "On the taxation of trade within and between households," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(2), pages 241-263, August.
  13. Apps,Patricia & Rees,Ray, 2009. "Public Economics and the Household," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521887878.
  14. Jonathan Levin, 2003. "Relational Incentive Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 835-857, June.
  15. McElroy, Marjorie B & Horney, Mary Jean, 1981. "Nash-Bargained Household Decisions: Toward a Generalization of the Theory of Demand," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 22(2), pages 333-49, June.
  16. Shelly Lundberg & Robert Pollak, 2003. "Efficiency in Marriage," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 1(3), pages 153-167, September.
  17. Manser, Marilyn & Brown, Murray, 1980. "Marriage and Household Decision-Making: A Bargaining Analysis," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 21(1), pages 31-44, February.
  18. Apps, Patricia F. & Rees, Ray, 1988. "Taxation and the household," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 355-369, April.
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