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Equilibrium and Stratification with Local Income Taxation when Households Differ in both Preferences and Incomes

  • Kurt Schmidheiny

This paper presents a model of an urban area with local income taxes used to finance a local public good. Households differ in both incomes and their taste for housing. The existence of a stratified equilibrium is shown in a calibrated two-community model assuming realistic single-peaked distributions for income and housing taste. The equilibrium features stratification of households by both incomes and tastes. The high-tax community shows lower housing prices and lower public good provision than the low-tax community. The model is able to explain the substantial differences of the local income tax level and of average income across communities as e.g. observed in Switzerland. The numerical investigation suggests that taste heterogeneity reduces the distributional effects of local tax differences. Tax differences across communities decrease with increasing taste heterogeneity. The numerical investigation also suggests that the relative size of the individual jurisdictions has great impact on the equilibrium situation. The ability of the rich community to set low taxes is higher when this community is physically small. However, a tax 'h(e)aven' need not be small.

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Paper provided by Universitaet Bern, Departement Volkswirtschaft in its series Diskussionsschriften with number dp0216.

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Date of creation: Dec 2002
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Handle: RePEc:ube:dpvwib:dp0216
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  1. Epple, Dennis & Romer, Thomas, 1991. "Mobility and Redistribution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(4), pages 828-58, August.
  2. Charles M. Tiebout, 1956. "A Pure Theory of Local Expenditures," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64, pages 416.
  3. Goodspeed, Timothy J., 1989. "A re-examination of the use of ability to pay taxes by local governments," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 319-342, April.
  4. Ellickson, Bryan, 1971. "Jurisdictional Fragmentation and Residential Choice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 61(2), pages 334-39, May.
  5. Ross, Stephen & Yinger, John, 1999. "Sorting and voting: A review of the literature on urban public finance," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, in: P. C. Cheshire & E. S. Mills (ed.), Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 47, pages 2001-2060 Elsevier.
  6. Dennis Epple & Holger Sieg, 1999. "Estimating Equilibrium Models of Local Jurisdictions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(4), pages 645-681, August.
  7. Nico A. Hansen & Anke S. Kessler, 2001. "The Political Geography of Tax H(e)avens and Tax Hells," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 1103-1115, September.
  8. Hansen, Nico A. & Kessler, Anke S., 2001. "(Non-)Existence of Equilibria in Multicommunity Models," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 418-435, November.
  9. Kurt Schmidheiny, 2002. "Income Stratifcation in Multi-Community Models," Diskussionsschriften dp0215, Universitaet Bern, Departement Volkswirtschaft.
  10. Westhoff, Frank, 1977. "Existence of equilibria in economies with a local public good," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 84-112, February.
  11. Epple, Dennis & Filimon, Radu & Romer, Thomas, 1993. "Existence of voting and housing equilibrium in a system of communities with property taxes," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(5), pages 585-610, November.
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