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The Redistributive Effects of Tax Benefit Systems in the Enlarged EU

  • Fuest, Clemens

    ()

    (ZEW Mannheim)

  • Niehues, Judith

    ()

    (Cologne Institute for Economic Research)

  • Peichl, Andreas

    ()

    (ZEW Mannheim)

How do different components of the tax and transfer systems affect disposable income inequality? This paper explores the redistributive effects of different tax benefit instruments in the enlarged EU based on two approaches. Inequality analysis based on the standard approach suggests that benefits are the most important factor reducing inequality in the majority of countries. The factor source decomposition approach, however, suggests that benefits play a negligible role and sometimes even contribute slightly positive to inequality. On the contrary, here taxes and social contributions are by far the most important contributors to income inequality reduction. We explain these partly contradictory results with the different normative focus of the two approaches and show that benefits have other aims than redistribution. Finally, our country clustering shows that the Eastern European countries do not form a distinguished group. The Central Eastern European countries group together with the Continental European countries and the Baltic States show similarities with some Southern European countries.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 4520.

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Length: 34 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4520
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  1. Fräßdorf, Anna & Grabka, Markus M. & Schwarze, Johannes, 2008. "The Impact of Household Capital Income on Income Inequality: A Factor Decomposition Analysis for Great Britain, Germany and the USA," IZA Discussion Papers 3492, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Immervoll, Herwig & Levy, Horacio & Lietz, Christine & Mantovani, Daniela & O'Donoghue, Cathal & Sutherland, Holly & Verbist, Gerlinde, 2005. "Household Incomes and Redistribution in the European Union: Quantifying the Equalising Properties of Taxes and Benefits," IZA Discussion Papers 1824, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Cowell, Frank A. & Kuga, Kiyoshi, 1981. "Additivity and the entropy concept: An axiomatic approach to inequality measurement," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 131-143, August.
  4. Sudhir Anand & Paul Segal, 2008. "What Do We Know about Global Income Inequality?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(1), pages 57-94, March.
  5. Atkinson, Anthony B., 1970. "On the measurement of inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 244-263, September.
  6. Michael Förster & Peter Whiteford, 2009. "How much Redistribution do Welfare States Achieve? The Role of Cash Transfers and Household Taxes," CESifo DICE Report, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 7(3), pages 34-41, October.
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