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The Rise and Future of Progressive Redistribution

Author

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  • Peter H. Lindert

    (University of California - Davis)

Abstract

Starting from today's collection of estimates of fiscal distribution within each of 53 countries, we can begin mapping a history of how redistribution has evolved historically, and to project some influences on its trends in the next few decades. There appears to have been a global shift toward progressive redistribution over the last hundred years in all prosperous countries. The retreats toward regressive redistribution have been rare and have been reversed. As a corollary, the rise in income inequality since the 1970s owes nothing to any retreat from progressive government spending. Adding the effects of rising subsidy for public education on the later inequality of adult earning power strongly suggests that a fuller, longer-run measure of fiscal incidence would reveal a history of still greater shift toward progressivity, most notably in Japan, Korea, andTaiwan. The key determinant of progressivity in the decades ahead is population aging, not inequality itself or immigration backlash.

Suggested Citation

  • Peter H. Lindert, 2017. "The Rise and Future of Progressive Redistribution," Commitment to Equity (CEQ) Working Paper Series 73, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:tul:ceqwps:73
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    File URL: http://repec.tulane.edu/RePEc/ceq/ceq73.pdf
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    progressive redistribution; income redistribution; fiscal history; fiscal redistribution;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H22 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Incidence
    • 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
    • N30 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - General, International, or Comparative

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