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Equality of Opportunity versus Equality of Outcome in Analysing Optimal Income Taxation Empirical Evidence based on Italian Data

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Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to introduce and adopt a generalised version of Roemer's (1998) Equality of Opportunity (EOp) framework for analysing optimal income taxation. EOp optimal tax rules seek to equalise income differentials arising from factors beyond the control of the individual. Unlike the pure EOp criterion of Roemer (1998) the generalised EOp criterion allows for alternative weighting profiles in the treatment of income differentials between and within types when types are defined by circumstances that are beyond people's control. An empirical microeconometric model of labour supply in Italy is used to simulate and identify optimal tax rules within classes of two- and three-parameter tax rules. A rather striking result of the analysis is that the optimal tax rule turns out to be the pure lump-sum tax, under Roemer's pure EOp criterion as well as under the generalised EOp criterion with moderate degrees of aversion to within-type inequality. A high degree of within-type inequality aversion instead produces EOp-optimal rules with positive marginal tax rates. On the other hand, when using the conventional equality of outcome (EO) criterion, the pure lump-sum tax always turns out to be optimal, at least with respect to the classes of two- and three-parameter rules. Thus, the results do not conform to the perhaps common expectation that the EO criterion is more supportive of "interventionist" (redistributive) policies than an EOp approach.

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  • Rolf Aaberge & Ugo Colombino & John E. Roemer, 2001. "Equality of Opportunity versus Equality of Outcome in Analysing Optimal Income Taxation Empirical Evidence based on Italian Data," Discussion Papers 307, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
  • Handle: RePEc:ssb:dispap:307
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    1. Michael Sattinger (ed.), 2001. "Income Distribution," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, volume 0, number 2018, April.
    2. Donaldson, David & Weymark, John A., 1983. "Ethically flexible gini indices for income distributions in the continuum," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 353-358, April.
    3. Roemer, J.E., 1992. "A Pragmatic Theory of Responsibility for the Egalitarian Planner," Papers 391, California Davis - Institute of Governmental Affairs.
    4. Aaberge, Rolf, 2001. "Axiomatic Characterization of the Gini Coefficient and Lorenz Curve Orderings," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 101(1), pages 115-132, November.
    5. Weymark, John A., 1981. "Generalized gini inequality indices," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 1(4), pages 409-430, August.
    6. Mehran, Farhad, 1976. "Linear Measures of Income Inequality," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 44(4), pages 805-809, July.
    7. Donaldson, David & Weymark, John A., 1980. "A single-parameter generalization of the Gini indices of inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 67-86, February.
    8. Aaberge, Rolf & Colombino, Ugo & Strom, Steinar, 1999. "Labour Supply in Italy: An Empirical Analysis of Joint Household Decisions, with Taxes and Quantity Constraints," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(4), pages 403-422, July-Aug..
    9. Aaberge, R. & Colombino, U. & Strom, S. & Wennemo, T., 1998. "Evaluating alternative tax reforms in Italy with a model of joint labor supply of married couples," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 415-433, December.
    10. Rolf Aaberge, 2000. "Characterizations of Lorenz curves and income distributions," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 17(4), pages 639-653.
    11. John D. Hey & Peter J. Lambert, 1980. "Relative Deprivation and the Gini Coefficient: Comment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 95(3), pages 567-573.
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    Cited by:

    1. Narazani, Edlira & Shima, Isilda, 2009. "Labour incentive reforms in pre-retirement age in Austria," EUROMOD Working Papers EM1/09, EUROMOD at the Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    2. Rolf Aaberge & Ugo Colombino, 2005. "A microeconometric model for analysing efficiency and distributional effects of tax reforms: a review of results for Italy and Norwayƒx," Public Economics 0501002, EconWPA.
    3. repec:kap:iaecre:v:12:y:2006:i:2:p:213-227 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Narazani, Edlira & Shima, Isilda, 2008. "Labour supply modelling in Italy when Minimum Income Scheme is an option," EUROMOD Working Papers EM6/08, EUROMOD at the Institute for Social and Economic Research.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Equality of opportunity; equality of outcome; labour supply; optimal income taxation;

    JEL classification:

    • D19 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Other
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household

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