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The Theory of Excess Burden and Optimal Taxation

  • Alan J. Auerbach

The purpose of this paper is to present the chronological development ofthe concept of excess burden and the related study of optimal tax theory. A main objective of this exercise is to uncover the interrelationships among various apparently distinct results, so as to bring out the basic structure of the entire problem.The paper includes a discussion of various measures of excess burden,focusing on issues of approximation, informational requirements, aggregation over individuals, and the effects of technology. Included in the presentation of optimal tax theory is a section on tax reform, as well as an application of the theory to the case where uncertainty is present.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 1025.

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Date of creation: Nov 1982
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as in "Handbook of Public Economics," vol 1, A. Auerbach and M. Feldstein, eds. Amsterdam: Elsevier Science Publishers B.V., 1985.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1025
Note: PE
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  1. Guesnerie, Roger, 1977. "On the direction of tax reform," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 179-202, April.
  2. Venti, Steven F. & Wise, David A., 1984. "Moving and housing expenditure: Transaction costs and disequilibrium," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(1-2), pages 207-243.
  3. Roberts, Kevin, 1980. "Price-independent welfare prescriptions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 277-297, June.
  4. Bradford, David F & Rosen, Harvey S, 1976. "The Optimal Taxation of Commodities and Income," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 66(2), pages 94-101, May.
  5. Boadway, Robin & Harris, Richard, 1977. "A characterization of piecemeal second best policy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 169-190, October.
  6. Weiss, Laurence, 1976. "The Desirability of Cheating Incentives and Randomness in the Optimal Income Tax," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(6), pages 1343-52, December.
  7. Rothschild, Michael & Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1970. "Increasing risk: I. A definition," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 225-243, September.
  8. Foster, Edward & Sonnenschein, Hugo, 1970. "Price Distortion and Economic Welfare," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 38(2), pages 281-97, March.
  9. Feldstein, Martin S, 1972. "Distributional Equity and the Optimal Structure of Public Prices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(1), pages 32-36, March.
  10. Chipman, John S & Moore, James C, 1980. "Compensating Variation, Consumer's Surplus, and Welfare," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(5), pages 933-49, December.
  11. Atkinson, Anthony B & Stern, N H, 1974. "Pigou, Taxation and Public Goods," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(1), pages 119-28, January.
  12. Harvey S. Rosen & Kenneth A. Small, 1979. "Applied Welfare Economics with Discrete Choice Models," NBER Working Papers 0319, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Rosen, Harvey S, 1978. "The Measurement of Excess Burden with Explicit Utility Functions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(2), pages S121-35, April.
  14. Hatta, Tatsuo, 1977. "A Theory of Piecemeal Policy Recommendations," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(1), pages 1-21, February.
  15. Dixit, Avinash K, 1970. "On the Optimum Structure of Commodity Taxes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(3), pages 295-301, June.
  16. Hausman, Jerry A, 1981. "Exact Consumer's Surplus and Deadweight Loss," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(4), pages 662-76, September.
  17. Cooter, Robert, 1979. "A new expenditure function," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 2(2), pages 103-110.
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