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The Redistributive Effects of Tax Benefit Systems in the Enlarged EU

Author

Listed:
  • Fuest, Clemens

    () (ZEW Mannheim)

  • Niehues, Judith

    () (Cologne Institute for Economic Research)

  • Peichl, Andreas

    () (Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Fuest, Clemens & Niehues, Judith & Peichl, Andreas, 2009. "The Redistributive Effects of Tax Benefit Systems in the Enlarged EU," IZA Discussion Papers 4520, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4520
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    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. Anna Fräßdorf & Markus M. Grabka & Johannes Schwarze, 2008. "The impact of household capital income on income inequality: A factor decomposition analysis for Great Britain, Germany and the USA," Working Papers 89, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
    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. Michael Förster & Peter Whiteford, 2009. "How much Redistribution do Welfare States Achieve? The Role of Cash Transfers and Household Taxes," ifo DICE Report, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 7(3), pages 34-41, October.
    6. Atkinson, Anthony B., 1970. "On the measurement of inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 244-263, September.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    tax benefit systems; redistribution; decomposition; inequality;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General
    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General

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