Optimal Income Redistribution When Individual Welfare Depends Upon Relative Income
The purpose of the present note is to explore the structure of optimal income taxation/redistribution in an economy where the welfare of individuals depends in part on relative after-tax consumption, i.e., we specify individual welfare as a function of absolute and relative after-tax consumption, with diminishing marginal utility to each. With such a specification, of course, an additional incentive for income redistribution from wealthy to poor citizens is created and the logical impossibility of increasing tax rates to the point where disincentive effects actually reduce tax revenues is potentially removed. The analysis highlights the importance of the marginal valuation placed on upward social mobility in various ranges of the income distribution and its interaction with the elasticity of the marginal utility of consumption; of course, "labor supply" elasticities, the form of the social welfare function, and the skill distribution continue to play an important role.
|Date of creation:||Aug 1976|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||published as Quarterly Journal of Economics (November 1978).|
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- Fair, Ray C, 1971. "The Optimal Distribution of Income," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 85(4), pages 551-79, November.
- Stern, N. H., 1976. "On the specification of models of optimum income taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1-2), pages 123-162.
- Edward P. Lazear, 1980.
"Family Background and Optimal Schooling Decision,"
NBER Working Papers
0141, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Sandmo, Agnar, 1976. "Optimal taxation : An introduction to the literature," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1-2), pages 37-54.
- 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.
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