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

  • Isabelle Joumard
  • Juliana Londoño Vélez

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.

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Paper provided by OECD Publishing in its series OECD Economics Department Working Papers with number 1037.

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Date of creation: 27 Mar 2013
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Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:1037-en
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