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Disentangling income inequality and the redistributive effect of taxes and transfers in 20 LIS countries over time

Author

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  • Caminada, Koen
  • Goudswaard, Kees
  • Wang, Chen

Abstract

In most OECD countries the gap between rich and poor has widened over the past decades. This paper analyzes whether and to what extent taxes and social transfers have contributed to this trend. Has the redistributive power of different social programs changed over time? The paper contributes to the literature by disentangling several parts of fiscal redistribution in a comparative setting. We use micro-data from the Luxembourg Income Study to examine household market inequality, redistribution from transfers and taxes, and the underlying social programs that drive the changes, for 20 countries from the mid-1980s to mid-2000s. The contribution of each program is estimated using a sequential accounting budget incidence decomposition technique. The aim of this paper is to offer detailed information on the redistributive impact of social transfer programs. We focus on changes in fiscal redistribution of 13 different social programs and taxes. We observe a sizeable increase in primary household inequality in all 20 countries over the last 25 years (except Ireland). In most countries, the extent of redistribution has increased too. Tax-benefit systems have offset two-third of the average increase in primary income inequality, although they appear to have become less effective in doing so since the mid-1990s. We find that the public old age pensions and the survivors scheme attribute 60 percent to the increase of redistribution during the period 1985-2005 for a subset of countries considered (with full tax/benefit information). Social assistance accounts for 20 percent, and the benefits for sickness, disease, and disability account for around 13 percent of the total increase in redistribution. Other transfers (invalid career benefits, education benefits, child care cash benefits and other child and family benefits) account for 22 percent of the total increase in redistribution. On the contrary, taxes slowed down redistribution by 17 percent during 1985-2005.

Suggested Citation

  • Caminada, Koen & Goudswaard, Kees & Wang, Chen, 2012. "Disentangling income inequality and the redistributive effect of taxes and transfers in 20 LIS countries over time," MPRA Paper 42350, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:42350
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Suresh Babu, M. & Bhaskaran, Vandana & Venkatesh, Manasa, 2016. "Does inequality hamper long run growth? Evidence from Emerging Economies," Economic Analysis and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 99-113.
    2. Sebastiano Fadda, "undated". "Income Inequality. What Causes It And How To Curb It," Working Papers 0014, ASTRIL - Associazione Studi e Ricerche Interdisciplinari sul Lavoro.
    3. Christina Behrendt & John Woodall, 2015. "Pensions and other social security income transfers," Chapters,in: Labour Markets, Institutions and Inequality, chapter 9, pages 242-262 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    4. Ive Marx & Brian Nolan & Javier Olivera, 2014. "The Welfare State and Anti-Poverty Policy in Rich Countries," Working Papers 1403, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp.
    5. Filgueira, Fernando & Rossel, Cecilia, 2017. "Confronting inequality: Social protection for families and early childhood through monetary transfers and care worldwide," Políticas Sociales 226, Naciones Unidas Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL).
    6. Salvatore Morelli & Timothy Smeeding & Jeffrey Thompson, 2014. "Post-1970 Trends in Within-Country Inequality and Poverty: Rich and Middle Income Countries," CSEF Working Papers 356, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
    7. Vanda Almeida, 2016. "Income inequality and redistribution in the aftermath of the 2007-2007 crisis: the US case," Working Papers 096, "Carlo F. Dondena" Centre for Research on Social Dynamics (DONDENA), Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi.
    8. Stefan Thewissen & Chen Wang & Olaf van Vliet, 2013. "Sectoral trends in earnings inequality and employment International trade, skill-biased technological change, or labour market institutions?," LIS Working papers 595, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    9. Arjan de Haan, 2013. "The Social Policies of Emerging Economies: Growth and Welfare in China and India," Working Papers 110, International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    welfare states; social income transfers; inequality; Gini coefficient; LIS;

    JEL classification:

    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions
    • H53 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Welfare Programs
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty

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