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Pigouvian Taxation in a Ramsey World

  • Robin Boadway


    (Queen's University)

  • Jean-Francois Trembley

    (University of Ottawa)

This paper studies the optimal Pigouvian tax for correcting pollution when the government also uses distortionary taxes to raise revenues. When preferences are quasilinear in leisure and additive, the Pigovian tax can be separated from the Ramsey revenue-raising tax. We characterize the relationship between the Pigouvian tax and marginal social damages in a variety of circumstances. In a setting with homogeneous households, the Pigouvian tax exceeds marginal damages if goods have inelastic demands, and vice versa. When households are heterogeneous so taxes can be redistributive, the Pigouvian tax gives more weight to damages suffered by low-income persons. The analysis is extended to allow for costly abatement. In general corrective taxes have to be applied to both emissions and output of the polluting good.

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Paper provided by Queen's University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 1167.

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Length: 39 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:qed:wpaper:1167
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  1. Bovenberg, A.L. & de Mooij, R.A., 1994. "Environmental levies and distortionary taxation," Other publications TiSEM 4b32deaa-ec2f-4de7-b59b-9, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
  2. Cremer, Helmuth & Gahvari, Firouz, 2001. "Second-best taxation of emissions and polluting goods," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(2), pages 169-197, May.
  3. Helmuth Cremer & Firouz Gahvari & Norbert Ladoux, 2001. "Second-Best Pollution Taxes and the Structure of Preferences," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 68(2), pages 258-280, October.
  4. Alan J. Auerbach & James R. Hines Jr., 2001. "Taxation and Economic Efficiency," NBER Working Papers 8181, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Nava, Mario & Schroyen, Fred & Marchand, Maurice, 1996. "Optimal fiscal and public expenditure policy in a two-class economy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 119-137, July.
  6. Cremer, Helmuth & Gahvari, Firouz & Ladoux, Norbert, 1998. "Externalities and optimal taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(3), pages 343-364, December.
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