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Ricardian Consumers With Keynesian Propensities

  • Robert B. Barsky
  • N. Gregory Mankiw
  • Stephen P. Zeldes

In this paper, we examine Ricardian equivalence of debt and tax finance in a world in which taxes are not lump-sum but are levied on risky labor income. First, we show that the marginal propensity to consume out of a tax cut, coupled with a future income tax increase, is positive under reasonable assumptions regarding preferences toward risk. Second, we document that the degree of income uncertainty facing the typical individual orfamily is large. Third, we show that, for plausible utility function parameters and distributions of future income, the MPC out of a tax cut is quantitatively large. Indeed, the MPC out of a tax cut, coupled with a future income tax increase, can be closer to the Keynesian value that ignores the future tax liabilities than to the Ricardian value that treats future taxes as if they were lump-sum.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w1400.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 1400.

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Date of creation: Feb 1987
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Publication status: published as American Economic Review, Vol. 76 (September 1986): 676-691.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1400
Note: EFG
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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  1. Lucas, Robert E., 1977. "Understanding business cycles," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 7-29, January.
  2. Sandmo, Agnar, 1970. "The Effect of Uncertainty on Saving Decisions," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 37(3), pages 353-60, July.
  3. Carmichael, Jeffrey, 1982. "On Barro's Theorem of Debt Neutrality: The Irrelevance of Net Wealth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(1), pages 202-13, March.
  4. Barro, Robert J., 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Scholarly Articles 3451399, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  5. Feldstein, Martin S, 1976. "Perceived Wealth in Bonds and Social Security: A Comment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(2), pages 331-36, April.
  6. Chan, Louis Kuo Chi, 1983. "Uncertainty and the neutrality of government financing policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 351-372.
  7. Dreze, Jacques H. & Modigliani, Franco, 1972. "Consumption decisions under uncertainty," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 5(3), pages 308-335, December.
  8. Varian, Hal R., 1980. "Redistributive taxation as social insurance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 49-68, August.
  9. Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Lawrence H. Summers, 1980. "The Role of Intergenerational Transfers in Aggregate Capital Accumulation," NBER Working Papers 0445, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Zeldes, Stephen P, 1989. "Optimal Consumption with Stochastic Income: Deviations from Certainty Equivalence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 104(2), pages 275-98, May.
  11. Robert E. Hall & Frederic S. Mishkin, 1980. "The Sensitivity of Consumption to Transitory Income: Estimates from Panel Data on Households," NBER Working Papers 0505, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Bryant, John, 1983. "Government Irrelevance Results: A Simple Exposition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(4), pages 758-61, September.
  13. Alan S. Blinder, 1978. "Temporary Income Taxes and Consumer Spending," NBER Working Papers 0283, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. F. Thomas Juster, 1977. "The Distribution of Economic Well-Being," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number just77-1.
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