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Optimal taxation, social contract, and the four worlds of welfare capitalism

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Abstract

Drawing from the formal setting of the optimal tax theory, the paper identifies the level of Rawlsianism (or aversion to poverty) of the European social planners starting from the observation of real data and redistribution systems and builds a metric that allows measuring the degree of (dis)similarity of the redistribution systems analyzed. The shape of the social welfare function implicit in tax-benefit systems is recovered by inverting the optimal taxation model on actual effective tax rates, assuming that existing systems are optimal for some Mirrleesian social planner. Actual distributions of incomes before and after redistribution are obtained using a European survey on incomes and living conditions of households (EU-SILC 2007). Results are discussed in the light of standard classifications of welfare regimes in Europe. There appears to be a clear coincidence of high decommodification willingness and high Rawlsianism in the Scandinavian, social-democratically influenced welfare states. There is an equally clear coincidence of low decommodification willingness and utilitarianism in the Southern European welfare states. The Continental European countries group closely together in the middle of the scale (except Germany that scores among the highest), as corporatist and etatist. Anglo-Saxon liberal welfare states score close to Continental European countries. Finally the group of Eastern European countries seems to split in two subgroups, one similar to the Continental European countries and one, mostly composed by Baltic countries, with scarce willingness to decommodify citizens, similar to the Southern European model.

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  • Amedeo Spadaro & Lucia Mangiavacchi & Luca Piccoli, 2012. "Optimal taxation, social contract, and the four worlds of welfare capitalism," DEA Working Papers 51, Universitat de les Illes Balears, Departament d'Economía Aplicada.
  • Handle: RePEc:ubi:deawps:51
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    Cited by:

    1. Weinzierl, Matthew, 2014. "The promise of positive optimal taxation: normative diversity and a role for equal sacrifice," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 128-142.
    2. Olivier Bargain & Mathias Dolls & Dirk Neumann & Andreas Peichl & Sebastian Siegloch, 2011. "Tax-Benefit Systems in Europe and the US: Between Equity and Efficiency," CESifo Working Paper Series 3534, CESifo Group Munich.
    3. Olivier Bargain & Mathias Dolls & Dirk Neumann & Andreas Peichl & Sebastian Siegloch, 2014. "Comparing inequality aversion across countries when labor supply responses differ," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 21(5), pages 845-873, October.
    4. Benjamin B. Lockwood & Matthew Weinzierl, 2014. "Positive and Normative Judgments Implicit in U.S. Tax Policy, and the Costs of Unequal Growth and Recessions," Harvard Business School Working Papers 14-119, Harvard Business School, revised Oct 2014.
    5. Luciano Canova & Luca Piccoli & Amedeo Spadaro, 2015. "An ex ante evaluation of the Revenu de Solidarité Active by micro–macro simulation techniques," IZA Journal of European Labor Studies, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 4(1), pages 1-20, December.

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    Keywords

    Optimal income taxation; tax-benefit policy; comparative social policy analysis; welfare state models;

    JEL classification:

    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • C63 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Computational Techniques

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