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Income inequality and the progressivity of taxes in a coalition formation model


  • Zsofia Barany

    (Département d'économie)


In this paper, I relate the degree of progressivity of the income tax scheme to the prevailing income inequality in the society. I find that, consistent with the data, more unequal societies implement more progressive income tax systems. I build a model of political coalition formation, where different income groups have to agree on a tax scheme to finance the public good. I show that, the greater income inequality is, i.e. the further away the rich are from the rest of the population, the less able they are to credibly commit to participating in a coalition. Therefore, as income inequality rises, the rich are increasingly excluded from the design of the income tax scheme. Consequently, the rich bear a larger fraction of the public good, and the tax system becomes more progressive.

Suggested Citation

  • Zsofia Barany, 2011. "Income inequality and the progressivity of taxes in a coalition formation model," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/eu4vqp9ompq, Sciences Po.
  • Handle: RePEc:spo:wpmain:info:hdl:2441/eu4vqp9ompqllr09i8hj22lpn

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item


    Income inequality; coalition formation; income taxes; progressivity;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • C71 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Cooperative Games
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies


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