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Mobility, Taxation and Welfare

  • Bibi, Sami

    ()

    (Policy and Economic Poverty Network)

  • Duclos, Jean-Yves

    ()

    (Université Laval)

  • Araar, Abdelkrim

    ()

    (Université Laval)

Income mobility is often thought to equalize permanent incomes and thereby to improve social welfare. The welfare analysis of mobility often fails, however, to account for the cost of the variability of periodic incomes around permanent incomes. This paper assesses the net welfare benefit of mobility by assuming both a social aversion to inequality in permanent incomes and an individual aversion to variability in periodic incomes. The paper further investigates the combined (and comparative) impact of mobility and of the tax system (another presumed income equalizer) on the dynamics of income across time and on the inequality of income across individuals. Using panel data, we find that Canada's tax system limits significantly the redistributive impact of mobility while also lowering considerably the cost of income variability. The permanent income equalizing effect of taxes can reach up to 23 percent of mean income at the higher values of inequality aversion that we use. Globally, the net social welfare effect of both mobility and taxation is (almost always) positive and substantial, often amounting to around 30 percent of mean income. For all choices of parameter values, the tax effect exceeds by far the net effect of mobility on inequality and social welfare.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 5757.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5757
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  1. Jarvis, Sarah & Jenkins, Stephen P, 1998. "How Much Income Mobility Is There in Britain?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(447), pages 428-43, March.
  2. Creedy, John & Wilhelm, Mark, 2002. "Income Mobility, Inequality and Social Welfare," Australian Economic Papers, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(2), pages 140-50, June.
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  4. Mark M. Trede, 1998. "The age profile of mobility measures: an application to earnings in West Germany," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(4), pages 397-409.
  5. Jakobsson, Ulf, 1976. "On the measurement of the degree of progression," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(1-2), pages 161-168.
  6. Fields, Gary S. & Ok, Efe A., 1996. "The Meaning and Measurement of Income Mobility," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 349-377, November.
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  8. Roland Benabou & Efe A. Ok, 2001. "Mobility as Progressivity: Ranking Income Processes According to Equality of Opportunity," NBER Working Papers 8431, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. N. Anders Klevmarken, 2004. "On The Wealth Dynamics Of Swedish Families, 1984-98," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 50(4), pages 469-491, December.
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  14. Rolf Aaberge & Magne Mogstad, 2009. "On the Measurement of Long-Term Income Inequality and Income Mobility," ICER Working Papers 09-2009, ICER - International Centre for Economic Research.
  15. Salas, Rafael & Rabadan, Isabel, 1998. "Lifetime and Vertical Intertemporal Inequality, Income Smoothing, and Redistribution: A Social Welfare Approach," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 44(1), pages 63-79, March.
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  17. Paul Makdissi & Quentin Wodon, 2003. "Risk-adjusted measures of wage inequality and safety nets," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 9(1), pages 1-10.
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