Why World Redistribution Fails
An optimal linear world income tax that maximizes a border-neutral social welfare function provides a drastic reduction in world consumption inequality, dropping the Gini coefficient from 0.69 to 0.25. In contrast an optimal decentralized (i.e., within countries) redistribution has miniscule effect on world income inequality. Thus, the traditional public finance concern about the excess burden of redistribution cannot explain why there is so little world redistribution. Actual foreign aid is vastly lower than the transfers under the simulated world income tax, suggesting that countries such as the United States either place a much lower value on the welfare of foreigners or else expect that a very significant fraction of cross-border transfers is wasted. The product of the welfare weight and one minus the share of transfers that are wasted constitutes an implied weight that the United States assigns to foreigners. We calculate that value to be as low as 1/2000 of the value put on the welfare of an American, suggesting that U.S. policy implicitly assumes either that essentially all transfers are wasted or places essentially no value on the welfare of the citizens of the poorest countries.
|Date of creation:||Sep 2002|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||published as Wojciech Kopczuk, Joel Slemrod, and Shlomo Yitzhaki . "The Limitations of Decentralized World Redistribution: An Optimal Taxation Approach", European Economic Review, Volume: 49, Issue: 4 (May 2005) Pages: 1051-1079|
|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.:
- Jon Gruber & Emmanuel Saez, 2000.
"The Elasticity of Taxable Income: Evidence and Implications,"
NBER Working Papers
7512, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Gruber, Jon & Saez, Emmanuel, 2002. "The elasticity of taxable income: evidence and implications," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 1-32, April.
- Burnside, Craig & Dollar, David, 1997.
"Aid, policies, and growth,"
Policy Research Working Paper Series
1777, The World Bank.
- Helpman, Elhanan & Sadka, Efraim, 1978. "The optimal income tax : Some comparative statics results," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 383-393, June.
- Hill, Robert J, 1997. "A Taxonomy of Multilateral Methods for Making International Comparisons of Prices and Quantities," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 43(1), pages 49-69, March.
- King, Robert G. & Plosser, Charles I. & Rebelo, Sergio T., 1988. "Production, growth and business cycles : I. The basic neoclassical model," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(2-3), pages 195-232.
- Mirrlees, James A, 1971. "An Exploration in the Theory of Optimum Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(114), pages 175-208, April.
- Slemrod, Joel, 1998. "Methodological Issues in Measuring and Interpreting Taxable Income Elasticities," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 51(n. 4), pages 773-88, December.
- Boone, Peter, 1996. "Politics and the effectiveness of foreign aid," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 289-329, February.
- Hongyi Li & Lyn Squire & Tao Zhang & Heng-fu Zou, 1999.
"A Data Set on Income Distribution,"
CEMA Working Papers
575, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
- Kenneth Rogoff, 1996. "The Purchasing Power Parity Puzzle," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(2), pages 647-668, June.
- Richard Blundell & Thomas MaCurdy, 1998.
"Labour supply: a review of alternative approaches,"
IFS Working Papers
W98/18, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
- Klaus Deininger & Lyn Squire, 1996.
"A New Data Set Measuring Income Inequality,"
CEMA Working Papers
512, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9186. 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.