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Income Inequality and Poverty in Colombia - Part 2. The Redistributive Impact of Taxes and Transfers

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  • Isabelle Joumard

    (OECD)

  • Juliana Londoño Vélez

    (OECD)

Abstract

Income inequality in Colombia has declined since the early 2000s but remains very high by international standards. While most of the inequality originates from the labour market, wealth – and thus capital income – is also highly concentrated and the tax and transfer system has little redistributive impact. The tax-to-GDP ratio remains low. Consumption taxes, which tend to be regressive, account for the bulk. The progressivity of income taxes had been undermined by generous tax reliefs, which benefit the well-off most and increase tax avoidance opportunities. The tax system should be reformed to enhance progressivity and raise more revenue which could be used to expand social policies. Cash transfers to households are small and dominated by non-redistributive schemes such as contributory pensions. Education coverage has increased steadily but quality and equity in access at the tertiary level remain important issues. Though significant progress has been made towards universal health coverage, the financing and organisation of the health care system could be improved to raise the quality of care and reduce adverse incentives to remain in the informal sector. Inégalités de revenu et pauvreté en Colombie - Partie 2. L'impact redistributif des impôts et prestations sociales Les inégalités de revenu se sont atténuées depuis le début des années 2000 mais elles restent beaucoup plus fortes que dans la plupart des autres pays. Si le fonctionnement du marché du travail est le principal facteur à l'origine de ces inégalités, il convient de noter que la richesse – et donc les revenus du capital – est aussi très inégalement répartie alors que les impôts et prestations sociales n'ont qu'un faible impact redistributif. Le montant des prélèvements obligatoires en pourcentage du PIB reste faible. Les taxes sur la consommation, qui tendent à être régressives, ont un poids prépondérant. La progressivité des impôts sur le revenu est amoindrie par les dispositifs d'allègements qui bénéficient aux plus fortunés et favorisent l'évasion fiscale. Le système fiscal devrait être réformé afin de renforcer sa progressivité et d'augmenter les recettes qui pourraient être utilisées pour mettre en place des politiques sociales plus ambitieuses. Les prestations sociales sont peu élevées et dominées par des programmes non-redistributifs, en particulier les pensions contributives. Les taux de scolarisation ont augmenté mais la qualité de l'éducation et l'équité d'accès, en particulier pour l'université, restent des défis importants. De même pour la santé, si des progrès remarquables ont été faits concernant la couverture, rendue presque universelle, le financement et l'organisation du système de santé pourraient être réformés afin d'augmenter la qualité des soins et de réduire les incitations au travail informel.

Suggested Citation

  • Isabelle Joumard & Juliana Londoño Vélez, 2013. "Income Inequality and Poverty in Colombia - Part 2. The Redistributive Impact of Taxes and Transfers," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 1037, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:1037-en
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/5k487n4r0t8s-en
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    Cited by:

    1. Paula Herrera-Idárraga & Enrique López-Bazo & Elisabet Motellón, 2016. "Regional Wage Gaps, Education and Informality in an Emerging Country: The Case of Colombia," Spatial Economic Analysis, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(4), pages 432-456, October.
    2. Isabelle Joumard & Juliana Londoño Vélez, 2013. "Income Inequality and Poverty in Colombia - Part 1. The Role of the Labour Market," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 1036, OECD Publishing.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Colombia; Colombie; conditional cash transfers; education; health; impôt sur la propriété; impôt sur la valeur ajoutée; impôt sur le revenu; inequality; inégalités; pensions; pensions; personal income tax; prestations sociales conditionnelles; property tax; santé; subventions pour l'eau et l'électricité; value added tax; water and electricity subsidies; éducation;

    JEL classification:

    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • H4 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods
    • H51 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Health
    • H53 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Welfare Programs
    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions
    • I14 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Inequality
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs

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