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Partisan Tax Policy and Income Inequality in the U.S., 1979-2007

Author

Listed:
  • Bargain, Olivier

    () (University of Bordeaux)

  • Dolls, Mathias

    () (Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

  • Immervoll, Herwig

    () (OECD)

  • Neumann, Dirk

    () (OECD)

  • Peichl, Andreas

    () (Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

  • Pestel, Nico

    () (IZA)

  • Siegloch, Sebastian

    () (University of Mannheim)

Abstract

We assess the effects of U.S. tax policy reforms on inequality by applying a new decomposition method that allows us to disentangle the direct policy effect from the effect of changing market incomes. Over the whole period 1979-2007 the cumulative tax policy effect aggravated income inequality by increasing the income share of the top 20% in contrast to the middle class' share. The tax policy effect accounts for up to 29% of the total change in inequality; its contribution increases up to 41% if we take into account behavioral responses. Using our unique policy effect measure and variation in tax policies across U.S. states and time, we also identify the redistributive intention of policymakers. The estimated effect of partisan politics on the U.S. income distribution is statistically significant and economically important. Republican policymakers increased inequality especially at the top whereas Democrats increased the income share of the bottom 80% of the distribution.

Suggested Citation

  • Bargain, Olivier & Dolls, Mathias & Immervoll, Herwig & Neumann, Dirk & Peichl, Andreas & Pestel, Nico & Siegloch, Sebastian, 2013. "Partisan Tax Policy and Income Inequality in the U.S., 1979-2007," IZA Discussion Papers 7190, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7190
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Benjamin B. Lockwood & Matthew Weinzierl, 2014. "Positive and Normative Judgments Implicit in U.S. Tax Policy, and the Costs of Unequal Growth and Recessions," Harvard Business School Working Papers 14-119, Harvard Business School, revised Oct 2014.
    2. Richard M. Bird & Eric M. Zolt, 2014. "Taxation and inequality in the Americas: Changing the fiscal contract?," Chapters,in: Taxation and Development: The Weakest Link?, chapter 7, pages 193-237 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    3. Figari, Francesco & Paulus, Alari & Sutherland, Holly, 2014. "Microsimulation and policy analysis," ISER Working Paper Series 2014-23, Institute for Social and Economic Research.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    partisan politics; redistribution; inequality; tax policy; political economy;

    JEL classification:

    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • H53 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Welfare Programs
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism

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