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Taxes and Growth in a Financially Underdeveloped Country: Evidence from the Chilean Investment Boom

  • Chang-Tai Hsieh
  • Jonathan A. Parker

This paper argues that taxation of retained profits is particularly distortionary in an economy with good growth prospects and poorly developed financial markets because it primarily reduces the investment of financially constrained firms, investment that has marginal product greater than the after-tax market real interest rate. Contrarily, taxes on distributed profits or capital gains primarily reduce the investment of financially unconstrained firms. Chile experienced a banking crisis over the period from 1982 to 1986 and in 1984 reduced its tax rate on retained profits from 50 percent to 10 percent. We show that, consistent with our theory, there was a large increase in aggregate investment after the reform which was entirely funded by an increase in retained profits. Further, we show that investment grew by more in industries that depend more on external financing, according to the Rajan and Zingales (1998) measure. Finally, we present some weak evidence from comparisons of investment rates across firms for several different measures of their likelihood of being financially constrained.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12104.

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Date of creation: Mar 2006
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Publication status: published as Chang-Tai Hsieh & Jonathan A. Parker, 2007. "Taxes and Growth in a Financially Underdevelopped Country: Evidence from the Chilean Investment Boom," Journal of LACEA Economia, LACEA - LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN ECONOMIC ASSOCIATION.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12104
Note: CF EFG PE
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  1. Nina Pavcnik, 2000. "Trade Liberalization, Exit, and Productivity Improvements: Evidence from Chilean Plants," NBER Working Papers 7852, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Rajan, Raghuram G & Zingales, Luigi, 1998. "Financial Dependence and Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 559-86, June.
  3. Kasahara, Hiroyuki, 2009. "Temporary Increases in Tariffs and Investment: The Chilean Experience," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 27, pages 113-127.
  4. R. Glenn Hubbard, 1998. "Capital-Market Imperfections and Investment," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 193-225, March.
  5. Simon Gilchrist & Charles P. Himmelberg, 1995. "Evidence on the Role of Cash Flow for Investment," Working Papers 95-01, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
  6. Felipe Morandé, 1996. "Savings in Chile: What Went Right?," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 5922, Inter-American Development Bank.
  7. Ben S. Bernanke & Mark Gertler, 1995. "Inside the Black Box: The Credit Channel of Monetary Policy Transmission," NBER Working Papers 5146, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Jonathan Gruber, 1995. "The Incidence of Payroll Taxation: Evidence from Chile," NBER Working Papers 5053, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Bradford, David F., 1981. "The incidence and allocation effects of a tax on corporate distributions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 1-22, February.
  10. Sebastian Edwards & Alejandra Cox Edwards, 2000. "Economic Reforms and Labor Markets: Policy Issues and Lessons from Chile," NBER Working Papers 7646, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Sebastian Edwards, 1996. "The Chilean Pension Reform: A Pioneering Program," NBER Working Papers 5811, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Ricardo J. Caballero, 2000. "Structural Volatility in Chile: A Policy Report," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 6469, Inter-American Development Bank.
  13. Cummins, J.G. & Hassett, K.A. & Hubbard, R.G., 1995. "tax Reforms and Investment: A Cross-Country Comparison," Working Papers 95-28, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  14. Andrew A. Samwick, 2000. "Is Pension Reform Conducive to Higher Saving?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 82(2), pages 264-272, May.
  15. Bernanke, Ben S. & Gertler, Mark & Gilchrist, Simon, 1999. "The financial accelerator in a quantitative business cycle framework," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 21, pages 1341-1393 Elsevier.
  16. Peter Diamond, 1993. "Privatization of Social Security: Lessons from Chile," NBER Working Papers 4510, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Hassett, Kevin A. & Hubbard, R. Glenn, 2002. "Tax policy and business investment," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 20, pages 1293-1343 Elsevier.
  18. Felipe G. Morandé, 1996. "Savings in Chile: What Went Right?," Research Department Publications 4030, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  19. Francisco Gallego & Norman Loayza, 2000. "Financial Structure in Chile: Macroeconomic Developments and Microeconomic Effects," Working Papers Central Bank of Chile 75, Central Bank of Chile.
  20. Agosin, Manuel R, 2001. "What Accounts for the Chilean Saving 'Miracle'?," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 25(4), pages 503-16, July.
  21. Manuel R. Agosin & Gustavo Crespi & Leonardo Letelier, 1997. "Análisis sobre el aumento del ahorro en Chile," Research Department Publications 3008, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
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