IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Dividend Taxes, Household Heterogeneity, and the US Great Depression


  • Jiang, Lunan


As shown by McGrattan (2012), an anticipated increase in dividend taxes plays an important role in explaining the dramatic investment decline during the U.S. Great Depression. This paper attempts to investigate whether this is still robust to a model with household heterogeneity and precautionary saving motives. I build an Aiyagari model with dynamic firms,dividend taxes, and labor productivity shocks, which are calibrated to account for the U.S. earnings and wealth Inequality during the Great Depression using 1930s data. The conclusion is that the impact of anticipated increases in dividend taxes is very sensitive to the presence of household heterogeneity. The quantitative results show that, in the presence of household heterogeneity, the predicted investment is 50% smaller than in the standard business cycle model proposed by McGrattan (2012). The decline in output and working hours also become much less significant. Intuitively, although the anticipated hike in dividend taxes diminishes the expected return to the investment, it also shrinks the total assets that households use for self-insurance against the highly persistent idiosyncratic shocks. In order to retain the desired asset level, precautious households keep their savings at a lower capital return and the model ultimately generates a lower aggregate investment decline.

Suggested Citation

  • Jiang, Lunan, 2015. "Dividend Taxes, Household Heterogeneity, and the US Great Depression," MPRA Paper 77029, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:77029

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: original version
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. François Gourio & Jianjun Miao, 2010. "Firm Heterogeneity and the Long-Run Effects of Dividend Tax Reform," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(1), pages 131-168, January.
    2. Diaz, Antonia & Pijoan-Mas, Josep & Rios-Rull, Jose-Victor, 2003. "Precautionary savings and wealth distribution under habit formation preferences," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(6), pages 1257-1291, September.
    3. Harold L. Cole & Lee E. Ohanian, 1999. "The Great Depression in the United States from a neoclassical perspective," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Win, pages 2-24.
    4. Diaz, Antonia & Pijoan-Mas, Josep & Rios-Rull, Jose-Victor, 2003. "Precautionary savings and wealth distribution under habit formation preferences," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(6), pages 1257-1291, September.
    5. Joines, Douglas H, 1981. "Estimates of Effective Marginal Tax Rates on Factor Incomes," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 54(2), pages 191-226, April.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Dividend Taxes; Household Heterogeneity; Investment; and the U.S. Great Depression;

    JEL classification:

    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:77029. 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: (Joachim Winter). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.