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Milton Friedman, the Negative Income Tax, and the Evolution of US Welfare Policy

  • Robert Moffitt

The negative income tax proposed by Milton Friedman represents one of the fundamental ideas of modern welfare policy. However, the academic literature has raised two difficulties with it, one challenging its purported work incentives and the other suggesting the possible superiority of work requirements. In addition, work requirement approaches have gained ground in actual U.S. welfare policy over the last 30 years and the number of different programs has proliferated, another development counter to the negative income tax. On the other hand, the Earned Income Tax Credit has produced a negative-income-tax-like program on a vast scale.

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Paper provided by The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics in its series Economics Working Paper Archive with number 486.

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Date of creation: Dec 2002
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Handle: RePEc:jhu:papers:486
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  1. Blackorby, Charles & Donaldson, David, 1988. "Cash versus Kind, Self-selection, and Efficient Transfers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 691-700, September.
  2. Nichols, Albert L & Zeckhauser, Richard J, 1982. "Targeting Transfers through Restrictions on Recipients," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(2), pages 372-77, May.
  3. Robert A. Moffitt, 2003. "Means-Tested Transfer Programs in the United States," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number moff03-1, December.
  4. Alan J. Auerbach & James R. Hines Jr., 2001. "Taxation and Economic Efficiency," NBER Working Papers 8181, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Katherine Cuff, 2000. "Optimality of workfare with heterogeneous preferences," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 33(1), pages 149-174, February.
  6. James Alm & Stacy Dickert-Conlin & Leslie A. Whittington, 1999. "Policy Watch: The Marriage Penalty," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(3), pages 193-204, Summer.
  7. Jan K. Brueckner, 1999. "Welfare Reform and the Race to the Bottom: Theory and Evidence," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 66(2), pages 505-525, January.
  8. Garfinkel, Irwin, 1973. "Is In-Kind Redistribution Efficient?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 87(2), pages 320-30, May.
  9. Fortin, Bernard & Truchon, Michel & Beausejour, Louis, 1993. "On reforming the welfare system : Workfare meets the negative income tax," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 119-151, June.
  10. Bruce, Neil & Waldman, Michael, 1991. "Transfers in Kind: Why They Can Be Efficient and Nonpaternalistic," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1345-51, December.
  11. V. Joseph Hotz, 2003. "The Earned Income Tax Credit," NBER Chapters, in: Means-Tested Transfer Programs in the United States, pages 141-198 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Mirrlees, James A, 1971. "An Exploration in the Theory of Optimum Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(114), pages 175-208, April.
  13. Parsons, Donald O., 1996. "Imperfect 'tagging' in social insurance programs," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(1-2), pages 183-207, October.
  14. James J. Heckrnan, 1974. "Effects of Child-Care Programs on Women's Work Effort," NBER Chapters, in: Economics of the Family: Marriage, Children, and Human Capital, pages 491-524 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. James J. Heckman, 1974. "Effects of Child-Care Programs on Women's Work Effort," NBER Chapters, in: Marriage, Family, Human Capital, and Fertility, pages 136-169 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Moffitt, Robert, 1992. "Incentive Effects of the U.S. Welfare System: A Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(1), pages 1-61, March.
  17. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 1992. "Workfare versus Welfare Incentive Arguments for Work Requirements in Poverty-Alleviation Programs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(1), pages 249-61, March.
  18. Wheaton, William C., 2000. "Decentralized Welfare: Will There Be Underprovision?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(3), pages 536-555, November.
  19. Charles Brown & Wallace E. Oates, 1985. "Assistance to the Poor in a Federal System," NBER Working Papers 1715, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Pauly, Mark V., 1973. "Income redistribution as a local public good," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 35-58, February.
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