Should Transfer Payments Be Indexed to Local Price Levels?
This paper examines the optimal location-based redistribution policy and shows that adjustment for local price levels is occasionally optimal, but never for the reasons suggested by the popular press. First, the existence of a spatial equilibrium suggests that utility levels will be equalized across space, so there is little equity rationale for indexing transfers to local prices. Second, since transfers to high cost areas buy less than transfers to low cost areas, it is in fact less efficient to transfer to high cost areas. However, even though migration ensures that utilities are equalized across space, marginal utilities of income will not necessarily be equalized, and since optimal transfer policy equalizes marginal,not total, utilities there is possibly a rationale for indexing to local pricelevels. Optimal indexing is a function of the coefficient of relative risk aversion, the elasticity of migration with respect to transfer differences across space and the degree to which higher amenities in high cost areas increase or decrease the marginal utility of income. Given my best parameter estimates, a one percent increase in local prices should lead to a .5 percent increase in transfers, when transfers are 2/3 of total income. My estimates from current AFDC payments suggest that the current level of implicit indexing is too high to possibly be optimal.
|Date of creation:||May 1996|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||published as Glaeser, E. L. "Should Transfer Payments Be Indexed To Local Price Levels?," Regional Science and Urban Economics, 1998, v28(1,Jan), 1-20.|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: |
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Glaeser, Edward L & Mare, David C, 2001.
"Cities and Skills,"
Journal of Labor Economics,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(2), pages 316-42, April.
- Rauch James E., 1993.
"Productivity Gains from Geographic Concentration of Human Capital: Evidence from the Cities,"
Journal of Urban Economics,
Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 380-400, November.
- James E. Rauch, 1991. "Productivity Gains From Geographic Concentration of human Capital: Evidence From the Cities," NBER Working Papers 3905, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Louis Kaplow, 1995. "Regional Cost-of-Living Adjustments in Tax-Transfer Schemes," NBER Working Papers 5008, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- R. Mehra & E. Prescott, 2010.
"The equity premium: a puzzle,"
Levine's Working Paper Archive
1401, David K. Levine.
- Edward M. Gramlich & Deborah S. Laren, 1984. "Migration and Income Redistribution Responsibilities," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 19(4), pages 489-511.
- Roback, Jennifer, 1982. "Wages, Rents, and the Quality of Life," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(6), pages 1257-78, December.
- Charles Brown & Wallace E. Oates, 1985.
"Assistance to the Poor in a Federal System,"
NBER Working Papers
1715, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Robert B. Barsky & Miles S. Kimball & F. Thomas Juster & Matthew D. Shapiro, 1995. "Preference Parameters and Behavioral Heterogeneity: An Experimental Approach in the Health and Retirement Survey," NBER Working Papers 5213, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- John H. Cochrane & Lars Peter Hansen, 1992.
"Asset Pricing Explorations for Macroeconomics,"
NBER Working Papers
4088, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Olivier Jean Blanchard & Lawrence F. Katz, 1992. "Regional Evolutions," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 23(1), pages 1-76.
- Feldstein, Martin & Wrobel, Marian Vaillant, 1994. "Can State Taxes Redistribute Income?," Scholarly Articles 2799054, Harvard University Department of Economics.
- Hansen, Lars Peter & Singleton, Kenneth J, 1983. "Stochastic Consumption, Risk Aversion, and the Temporal Behavior of Asset Returns," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(2), pages 249-65, April.
- Blank, Rebecca M., 1988. "The effect of welfare and wage levels on the location decisions of female-headed households," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 186-211, September.
- Moffitt, Robert, 1992. "Incentive Effects of the U.S. Welfare System: A Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(1), pages 1-61, March.
- Martin Feldstein & Marian Vaillant, 1994.
"Can State Taxes Redistribute Income?,"
NBER Working Papers
4785, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Cebula, Richard, 1978. "The Determinants of Human Migration," MPRA Paper 58401, University Library of Munich, Germany.
- Wildasin, David E, 1991. "Income Redistribution in a Common Labor Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(4), pages 757-74, September.
- J. R. Walker, . "Migration amoung low-income households: Helping the witch doctors reach consensus," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1031-94, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5598. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.