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Redistributive Policies through Taxation: Theory and Evidence




Increasing marginal tax rates and making payments to the poor reduce inequality and introduce savings dis-incentives. Using a heterogeneous agent model with incomplete markets, we show that higher taxes (and transfers) decrease consumption inequality but also mean savings and mean consumption. This demonstrates the trade-off between equity and efficiency. These theoretical predictions are tested by exploiting differences in tax rates across US states. Using two surveys, the Consumer Expenditure Survey and the Current Population Survey, we show that the empirical evidence supports the theory, and that there is a comparatively small fall in efficiency for a given gain in equity associated with higher taxation.

Suggested Citation

  • Charles Grant & Christos Koulovatianos & Alexander Michaelides & Mario Padula, 2003. "Redistributive Policies through Taxation: Theory and Evidence," CSEF Working Papers 100, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
  • Handle: RePEc:sef:csefwp:100

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    Cited by:

    1. Charles Grant & Winfried Koeniger, 2009. "Redistributive Taxation and Personal Bankruptcy in U.S. States," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 52(3), pages 445-467, August.
    2. Audrey Desbonnet & Jean-Olivier Hairault, 2010. "Inégalité de patrimoine et progressivité de l'impôt," Economie & Prévision, La Documentation Française, vol. 0(2), pages 21-41.

    More about this item


    Undiversifiable Earnings Risk; Tax Distortions; Equity; Efficiency; Transfers;

    JEL classification:

    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household

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