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Relative Consumption Concerns and the Optimal Tax Mix

This articles studies the optimal tax mix (taxes on income and commodities) under asymmetric information in a two-type model, when individuals make relative consumption comparisons. The model includes both positional and nonpositional goods, taking into account the fact that relative concerns matter for some but not for all commodities. We find that in general the whole tax system is affected by the externalities caused by the consumption of positional goods, notably also the taxes on income and on a non-positional good. The tax rates on positional goods are higher than in the absence of status effects, reflecting their Pigouvian role. The sign of the Pigouvian part in the income tax schedule is ambiguous and depends crucially on whether status goods are complements or substitutes to leisure.

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Paper provided by The Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Analysis of the Welfare State, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria in its series NRN working papers with number 2011-12.

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Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:jku:nrnwps:2011_12
Contact details of provider: Postal: NRN Labor Economics and the Welfare State, c/o Rudolf Winter-Ebmer, Altenbergerstr. 69, 4040 Linz
Phone: +43-732-2468-8216
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  12. Corneo, Giacomo & Jeanne, Olivier, 1997. "Conspicuous consumption, snobbism and conformism," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 55-71, October.
  13. Carlsson, Fredrik & Johansson-Stenman, Olof & Martinsson, Peter, 2003. "Do You Enjoy Having More Than Others? Survey Evidence of Positional Goods," Working Papers in Economics 100, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
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  20. Thomas Aronsson & Olof Johansson‐Stenman, 2010. "Positional Concerns In An Olg Model: Optimal Labor And Capital Income Taxation," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 51(4), pages 1071-1095, November.
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  23. Paul Eckerstorfer, 2011. "Optimal redistributive taxation in a multi-externality model," Economics working papers 2011-10, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  24. Olof Johansson-Stenman & Fredrik Carlsson & Dinky Daruvala, 2002. "Measuring Future Grandparents" Preferences for Equality and Relative Standing," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(479), pages 362-383, April.
  25. Atkinson, A. B. & Stiglitz, J. E., 1976. "The design of tax structure: Direct versus indirect taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1-2), pages 55-75.
  26. Cremer, Helmuth & Gahvari, Firouz & Ladoux, Norbert, 1998. "Externalities and optimal taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(3), pages 343-364, December.
  27. Bagwell, Laurie Simon & Bernheim, B Douglas, 1996. "Veblen Effects in a Theory of Conspicuous Consumption," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 349-73, June.
  28. Boskin, Michael J & Sheshinski, Eytan, 1978. "Optimal Redistributive Taxation when Individual Welfare Depends upon Relative Income," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 92(4), pages 589-601, November.
  29. Layard, Richard, 1980. "Human Satisfactions and Public Policy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 90(363), pages 737-50, December.
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