The Optimal Composition of Government Expenditure
This paper examines the optimal ratio of transfer payments to expenditure on public goods, for a given income tax rate. The transfer payment is then determined by the government’s budget constraint. The optimal ratio of transfers to public good expenditure per person is expressed as a function of the ratio of the median to the mean wage, and of the tax rate. Reductions in the skewness of the wage rate distribution are associated with reductions in transfer payments relative to public goods expenditure, at a decreasing rate. Furthermore, increases in the tax rate, from relatively low levels, are associated with increases in the relative importance of transfer payments. But beyond a certain level, further tax rate increases are associated with a lower ratio of transfers to public goods.
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