Horizontal Equity: New Measures, Unclear Principles
Alan Auerbach and Kevin Hassett offer a new measure of horizontal equity (HE) that is designed to overcome deficiencies in prior indexes. There is, however, a fundamental problem that their effort shares with their predecessors' attempts: the underlying rationale for pursuing HE at the expense of individuals' well-being is never stated. Moreover, as discussed here, it appears that no plausible rationale can be given because the essence of HE involves giving weight to morally arbitrary factors. Indeed, pursuing HE may even conflict with the Pareto principle. On reflection, it seems that the appeal of HE is specious: HE does not possess intrinsic value, but rather is a rough proxy concept that may signal various ways in which unequal treatment of individuals can lead to a loss in social welfare. Unfortunately, HE indexes are not very useful even with regard to HE's proxy role.
|Date of creation:||Apr 2000|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.|
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.:
- Louis Kaplow, 1995. "How Tax Complexity and Enforcement Affect the Equity and Efficiency of The Income Tax," NBER Working Papers 5391, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Louis Kaplow & Steven Shavell, 1999. "Any Non-Individualistic Social Welfare Function Violates the Pareto Principle," NBER Working Papers 7051, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Louis Kaplow, 1985. "Horizontal Equity: Measures in Search of a Principle," NBER Working Papers 1679, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Kaplow, Louis, 1995. "A Fundamental Objection to Tax Equity Norms: A Call for Utilitarianism," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 48(4), pages 497-514, December.
- John C. Harsanyi, 1953. "Cardinal Utility in Welfare Economics and in the Theory of Risk-taking," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 61, pages 434.
- Kaplow, Louis, 1996. "How Tax Complexity and Enforcement Affect the Equity and Efficiency of the Income Tax," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 49(1), pages 135-50, March.
- Feldstein, Martin, 1976. "On the theory of tax reform," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1-2), pages 77-104.
- Kaplow, Louis, 1996. " Optimal Distribution and the Family," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 98(1), pages 75-92, March.
- Kaplow, Louis, 1989. "Horizontal Equity: Measures in Search of a Principle," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 42(2), pages 139-54, June.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7649. 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.